Peptides in the venom of the South American rattlesnake, the crotalidicin, kills bacteria without affecting healthy cells, according to an international study led by David Andreu, a professor at the Pompeu Fabra University (UPF), in Barcelona, Spain. The study, whose report was published in the Biological Chemistry journal, concluded that the peptides in the South American rattlesnake fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
The peptide is attracted by the electrostatic charges of the cells
The peptide has positively charged membranes while the bacterium has negatively charged membranes, which allows the peptide to attach to bacteria and to kill them.
On the other hand, the healthy cells of the body have neutrally charged membranes, so they are not affected by the rattlesnake venom peptide.
The investigation was carried out on strains of bacteria among which there are some of those that cause serious infections in hospitals, which are usually difficult to attack because they have an extra membrane and are often camouflaged by a protective capsule.
New methods to fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria may be developed with peptides in the rattlesnake venom
“The results point to a promising role for this fragment of crotalicidin and continue to confirm that the peptides if properly redesigned, are effective antibiotics against resistant bacteria,” summarized Andreu.
The work has involved researchers from Australia, Portugal, Brazil, and France, in a program of exchange of research and innovation personnel funded by the European Commission within the “Horizon 2020” project.
Thanks to this program that allows mobility and knowledge transfer between institutions, it was possible for this international science team to gather all its members’ knowledge and ideas into a study which may be proven very useful for the medications industry.
In conclusion, according to the team of scientists, led by David Andreu from the Spanish Pompeu Fabra University, the peptides in the South American rattlesnake venom fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria without harming the body’s healthy cells.