The molecule was identified and synthesized by researchers from Butantan InstituteDuderlina has proven effective in combating various germs and fungi, according to a study published in the scientific journal Research in Microbiology.
The compound is extracted from Lactobacillus acidophilus, a bacterium that lives in the human microbiota, and is non-toxic and has the potential to become a new antibiotic in the future, able to help fight resistant infections, especially gastrointestinal and lung infections.
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Superbug resistance is considered one of the top 10 threats to public health by the World Health Organization (WHO) and is primarily caused by the indiscriminate use of antibiotics.
With 1.2 million deaths caused by resistant bacteria each year, and nearly 5 million deaths indirectly related, the organization estimates that the problem could cost the global economy $100 trillion by 2050. Therefore, it highlights that it is necessary to expand In developing new antibiotics. as soon as possible.
What would it take for Duderlena to become a medicine?
In tests conducted in the Butantan laboratory, the new compound fought bacteria that were already widely reported as multi-resistant microorganisms, such as Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The first is associated with the gastrointestinal tract, urinary tract, and neonatal meningitis, and the second can cause lung and gastrointestinal infections.
Duderlena was also effective against the fungus Candida albicans, which causes candidiasis and is known to cause recurrent infections. Candida infections are one of the most common infections in people with weakened immune systems, and some strains have shown resistance against standard antifungals.
The researchers’ hypothesis is that the molecule could be used in the pharmaceutical industry, to develop drugs, and in the food industry to prevent contamination and treat infected animals.
“Antimicrobial peptides are compounds that are synthesized by all forms of life, with the aim of protecting themselves from threats and increasing their competitive ability to survive in a given environment,” explains researcher Pedro Ismael da Silva Jr., coordinator of the study that is the subject of the Master’s degree. Certificate in Biotechnology by student Bruna Souza da Silva.
In order to advance the research, the team is now looking for partnerships to develop animal tests and, if positive results appear, reach the clinical testing stage. According to Silva Jr., there is still a long way to go, years, before the potential drug can leave the bench and be available on the market.
Another stage of research is to analyze which parts of the molecule sequence are most relevant for the therapeutic action to occur. To this end, doctoral student Elias Jorge Muniz, who is also supervised by Silva Jr., is fragmenting and synthesizing Duderlina, to separately evaluate the activity and toxicity of its fragments.
The goal is to make the molecule smaller, and therefore cheaper, more effective and safer. “The more amino acids a molecule contains (i.e. the larger it is), the greater the risk of triggering an antibody response, which is the reaction of the immune system,” Silva Jr. points out.
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