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Teflon Antibiotics

September 10, 2007

Combining Teflon chemistry with natural antibiotics could lead to powerful drugs.


Crossing frog skin with a frying pan. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Most animals produce natural antibiotics called AMPs, which stave off bacteria, viruses, fungi, and even cancer. But they haven’t made good drugs, because they break down quickly in the body, and because the stronger versions stick to human cells and kill them. Now, University of Michigan biochemist Neil Marsh and his colleagues may have found a solution. They coated potent AMPs from frog skin with the kind of nonstick molecules found in Teflon. The resulting antibiotic was just as powerful but less likely to break down.

NEIL MARSH (University of Michigan):
And what we’re trying to find out now is whether we can cure some of the toxicity, the stickiness problems. We’re still working on that one.

If the Teflon AMPs can be made that don’t stick to healthy cells, they could eventually be used to fight drug-resistant infections. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.