Tobacco peptide may be the future solution to superbugs

Flowers from Nicotiana alata, a tobacco plant, may hold the key to dealing with drug-resistant bacteria known as "superbugs." The discovery was made by researchers with La Trobe University, where they found that the specific peptide NaD1 can combat infections. The discovery follows a previous one by the same team who found the peptide to be a possible treatment for killing cancer cells.

The findings were made by La Trobe's Dr. Mark Hulett, Dr. Marc Kvansakul, and colleagues. In the study, which has been published in the journal Nature, the team demonstrates how peptides from Nicotiana alata can destroy the source of a serious fungal infection called Candida albicans. The NaD1 peptide works by bursting the organism's outer layer, ultimately causing the cells to explode and perish.

The peptide isn't limited to just fungal infections, however, with the researchers indicating it could also help tackle a slew of diseases resistant to existing drugs, including major viral diseases like HIV and Zika. Talking about that, the researchers explained:

They act in a different way to existing antibiotics and allow us to explore new ways of fighting infections. It's an exciting discovery that could be harnessed to develop a new class of life-saving antimicrobial therapy to treat a range of infectious diseases, including multi-drug-resistant golden staph, and viral infections such as HIV, Zika virus, Dengue and Murray River Encephalitis.

SOURCE: La Trobe University