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A breakthrough antibiotic? SUNY ESF scientists create synthetic protein that disrupts bacteria growth

When things don't go as planned in Chris Nomura's science world, they sometimes turn out for the better.

Nomura, an assistant professor in the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry's Department of Chemistry, and his team of researchers are using a synthetic protein molecule to disrupt the way bacteria become virulent, a finding that could have widespread implications for human health.

The process has the potential to work against an array of bacteria including those that threaten patients with illnesses such as cystic fibrosis, stubborn strains that affect hospital patients and strains that occur in desert environments and prove troublesome for U.S. troops serving in places like Afghanistan.

For years, Nomura's team has been researching better ways of developing biodegradable plastics from sugars, starches and plant oils. When these materials are fed to bacteria, the bacteria produce a byproduct similar to petroleum-based plastic.

Trying to stimulate this bacterial process using a synthetic protein, they discovered that the synthetic protein could disrupt bacterial growth by blocking or shutting down certain essential genetic functions of the bacteria.

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