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César de la Fuente obtains a new antibiotic from the venom of a wasp

14/Oct/2020 Research Coordinación

The leader ofthe Machine Biology group at the University of Pennsylvania, and a member of CICA's Scientific Advisory Board, Cesar de la Fuente, has managed to reprogram the wasp's venom into a powerful antibiotic.

Together with his team, Cesar is exploring new ways to obtain antibiotics to solve the growing problem of super-resistant bacteria to classic formulations. "We have used antibiotics massively and now bacteria are generating resistance. The antibiotics we have today no longer work very well," the researcher explains.

In this work, published in the PNAS journal, the scientists have synthesized the toxin with a computer and have modified specific amino acids in the peptide, annulling its toxicity, but conserving its double antimicrobial and immunomodulating activity. The results show that 80% of mice survived a lethal infection thanks to the treatment with this new antibiotic.

Although the development of an antibiotic takes around 10 years and costs around 1 billion dollars, "more than the budget of NASA to send a rocket to the Moon", points out the researcher, they remain optimistic and hope "to have promising results in the next months".

Original articles: ELPAIS|Ciencia,12/10/2020, Juan Miguel Hernández and La Opinión A Coruña, 13/10/2020, María de la Huerta.

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Other related articles: GCiencia,13/10/2020, Manuel Rey.