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To beat superbug bacteria, look to frog skin

In search of ways to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria, scientists are looking to synthetic anti-microbial skin secretions from frogs.

Two species, Australian Green-Eyed and Growling Grass frogs, were selected because peptides secreted from their skin form a defense to a broad spectrum of bacteria including Staphylococcus. Commonly known as superbugs, antibiotic-resistant bacteria can pose significant risks to human health.
The research is under way at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), where scientists are using neutrons from Australia’s only nuclear reactor.

Professor Frances Separovic from the School of Chemistry and Bio21 Institute at the University of Melbourne is leading the research with the expertise of ANSTO’s postdoctoral research fellow Anton Le Brun, and Professor Michael James.

“With the increase in antibiotic resistance, peptides (small proteins) that destroy cell membranes are being considered as therapeutics. However, there is a need for peptides that preferentially destroy bacterial membranes,” says Separovic.
 
 

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