Freshwater Animal may Help Humans Fight Drug Resistant Infections

Scientists have discovered a potentially new antibiotic, found in the freshwater animal, Hydra. Researchers have recently discovered that the freshwater animal, Hydra, contains a protein that might be used to help humans fight infection, providing a solution to concerns about treating infection from bacteria that have become resistant to currently used antibiotics.

Hydra is a freshwater animal related to jellyfish, corals and sea anemones. Researchers now find Hydra possess a powerful protein that can kill a wide range of bacteria that have developed a resistance to antibiotics currently on the market.

Joachim Grötzinger, Thomas Bosch and colleagues at the University of Kiel have discovered that Hydra contains an unusual protein, labelled hydramacin-1. The protein is unique because it has no similarity to other proteins found in antibiotics, except for the leech, used since ancient times because of its ability to help with wound healing.

The researchers discovered through lab experiments, that hydramicin-1 adheres to the surface of bacteria, causing the germs to clump. Hydramicin-1 destroys the bacterial membrane, making it impossible for the bacteria to replicate and spread.

Hydramicin-1 has a three-dimensional shape say the scientists, which resembles a distinct superfamily of proteins. The same proteins are also found in scorpion venom, and leeches possess two similar proteins.

The scientists have placed the infection-fighting proteins found in the freshwater animal into a new category, known as macins.

In the laboratory, hydramacin-1 killed a variety of bacteria, including the drug resistant strain of a commonly occurring hospital acquired infection, Klebsiella oxytoca. Klebsiella is a bacterium that can quickly spread to patients from the hands of hospital personnel, especially in wounds, the urinary tract and the respiratory tract. Hyramicin-1 was found during the research to be effective against a large number of gram positive and gram-negative bacteria.

The bacteria fighting properties of the freshwater animal Hydra may provide an answer to help humans fight drug resistant infections, an issue that has become an escalating public health concern.

Source: JBC: New family of antibacterial agents uncovered