London: With more and more pathogens becoming immune to antibiotics, researchers are identifying alternatives to treat many frequently occurring infections.
Figures released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) show that in 2010, nearly half-a-million people were infected with a strain of tuberculosis (TB) which is resistant to many antibiotics. As a result, one-third of those infected died.
The WHO attributes the growing spread of resistant pathogens (micro-organisms that cause diseases) to the indiscriminate use of penicillin and other antibiotics.
Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology IZI in Leipzig have found an alternative to the established antibiotics. In the future, anti-microbial peptides (part of protein chain) will take up the battle against pathogens, they said.
"We have already identified 20 of these short chains of amino acids which kill numerous microbes, including enterococci, yeasts and moulds, as well as human pathogenic bacteria such as Streptococcus mutans, which is found in the human oral cavity and causes tooth decay," according to a Fraunhofer statement.
"The spectrum of efficacy of the tested peptides includes not only bacteria and moulds but also lipid-enveloped viruses. Another key factor is that the peptides identified in our tests do not harm healthy body cells," says Andreas Schubert, group manager at Fraunhofer IZI.