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First "Smart" Antimicrobial Reported


April 21, 2006

One of the problems with current antibiotics is they kill indiscriminately, numbering among their victims benign and/or beneficial species of bacteria that inhabit our mouths, gut, intestine, and other parts of the body where biofilms form.  This less-than-optimal treatment outcome has led some scientists to ask whether it might be possible to create a new generation of antibiotics that selectively kills the bad bugs but leaves the good ones alone.  In the April issue of the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, a team of scientists supported by NIDCR and dental industry sponsors report taking an important step forward in designing these so-called “smart” antimicrobials.  The scientists successfully synthesized a chimeric, 36-amino-acid compound that specifically targets Pseudomonas species.  It consists of a peptide that locks onto Pseudomonas species like a homing device on a missile and a second peptide that, once delivered, kills the bacteria.   According to the authors, this marks the first synthetic, target-specific antimicrobial of its kind and lays the intellectual foundation for developing additional smart antimicriobials.  

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This page last updated: February 26, 2014