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A new weapon in the battle against antibiotic resistance could be hiding in your stomach.
A new study suggests that short amino-acid chains found in human gastric juices can kill foodborne pathogens and stymie skin infections. These molecules, called peptides, may never make it through human trials — they've been studied only in mice so far — but the researchers hope that by digging into small molecules found in odd places, scientists can uncover new possibilities for drug treatments.
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"One of the advantages of these peptides is [that] because they target many different things at once, they make it very difficult for bacteria to become resistant," Fuente-Nunez told Live Science.
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The researchers found that a subset of peptides, originating from an enzyme found in the human stomach called pepsin A, were particularly intriguing, the team reported Aug. 20 in the journal ACS Synthetic Biology. These peptides most likely help quash nascent bacterial infections when nasty pathogens enter the digestive tract, traveling with food and water, Fuente-Nunez said.
To study the peptides in action, the researchers engineered Escherichia coli bacteria to produce the three peptides. Then, the...
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