Researchers suggest that synthetic peptoids, a class of manmade molecules similar to natural proteins can be a potential target for developing new class of antibiotic drugs to fight against drug-resistant bacterial infections.
Various researches are being conducted to find new classes of antibiotics to fight them.
'Peptoids could be an entirely new class of antibiotic drugs, which would be hugely important,' said Annelise Barron, senior author and associate professor of bioengineering at Stanford.
Natural peptides are found in organisms from grasses to amphibians to humans. In the human body, the peptides show up in the mouth, lungs and intestines, and in body fluids like sweat and tears.
'You can think of these types of antibiotics as the body's 'land mines' against invading pathogens,' said Barron.
Barron revealed that the bacteria often impede anti-microbial drugs by deactivating it by pumping it out of the cell. However, the bacteria find it difficult to develop resistance to anti-microbial peptides.
Peptoids are synthetic molecules with structures similar to those of anti-microbial peptides.
The team led by Barron tested the peptoids against six strains of pathogenic bacteria.
The findings revealed that peptoids showed anti-bacterial properties almost identical to those of the natural peptides.
'They did beautifully. They appear to be broad-spectrum antibiotics that interact and interfere with bacterial cell membranes analogously to the way these peptides do,' said Barron.
To further investigate whether these peptoids caused any harm to human cells, the team combined it with human red blood cells in the laboratory and mixed it with mammalian lung cells and skin cells.
They found that the peptoids left the mammalian cells unharmed. They would further investigate it in animal models of bacterial infection, and mice.
The study appears in Feb. 26 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.