Synthetic antibiotics may help fight drug-resistant bacteria

Synthetic antibiotics may help fight drug-resistant bacteria

Originally published on Newsweek

Scientists hope to harness the body’s defenses against potentially deadly bacteria to create a new class of antibiotics.

Researchers at MIT and the University of Naples Federico II, Italy, found an enzyme used to digest food in the stomach called pepsinogen could destroy bacteria like salmonella and e.coli, both of which can kill if left untreated. 

The research comes as scientists race against the clock to create new antibiotics as bacteria become resistant to existing medications. Last year, the World Health Organization reported that as many as 250,000 people a year worldwide died from multidrug resistant tuberculosis, and the world could soon run out of effective treatments to fight a number of dangerous illnesses. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, antibiotic resistance killed 23,000 people annually in the U.S. alone.

Scientists hope that peptides will help to solve this problem. Almost every living thing is armed with antimicrobial peptides, which can kill microbes but are not as powerful as antibiotic medications.

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