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      Melittin: from honeybees to superbugs

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          Most cited references 67

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          Venoms as a platform for human drugs: translating toxins into therapeutics.

          An extraordinarily diverse range of animals have evolved venoms for predation, defence, or competitor deterrence. The major components of most venoms are peptides and proteins that are often protease-resistant due to their disulfide-rich architectures. Some of these toxins have become valuable as pharmacological tools and/or therapeutics due to their extremely high specificity and potency for particular molecular targets. There are currently six FDA-approved drugs derived from venom peptides or proteins. This article surveys the current pipeline of venom-derived therapeutics and critically examines the potential of peptide and protein drugs derived from venoms. Emerging trends are identified, including an increasing industry focus on disulfide-rich venom peptides and the use of a broader array of molecular targets in order to develop venom-based therapeutics for treating a wider range of clinical conditions. Key technical advances in combination with a renewed industry-wide focus on biologics have converged to provide a larger than ever pipeline of venom-derived therapeutics. Disulfide-rich venom peptides obviate some of the traditional disadvantages of therapeutic peptides and some may be suitable for oral administration. Moreover, some venom peptides can breach the blood brain barrier and translocate across cell membranes, which opens up the possibility of exploiting molecular targets not previously accessible to peptide drugs.
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            Melittin: a membrane-active peptide with diverse functions.

            Melittin is the principal toxic component in the venom of the European honey bee Apis mellifera and is a cationic, hemolytic peptide. It is a small linear peptide composed of 26 amino acid residues in which the amino-terminal region is predominantly hydrophobic whereas the carboxy-terminal region is hydrophilic due to the presence of a stretch of positively charged amino acids. This amphiphilic property of melittin has resulted in melittin being used as a suitable model peptide for monitoring lipid-protein interactions in membranes. In this review, the solution and membrane properties of melittin are highlighted, with an emphasis on melittin-membrane interaction using biophysical approaches. The recent applications of melittin in various cellular processes are discussed.
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              Antimicrobial susceptibility testing in biofilm-growing bacteria.

              Biofilms are organized bacterial communities embedded in an extracellular polymeric matrix attached to living or abiotic surfaces. The development of biofilms is currently recognized as one of the most relevant drivers of persistent infections. Among them, chronic respiratory infection by Pseudomonas aeruginosa in cystic fibrosis patients is probably the most intensively studied. The lack of correlation between conventional susceptibility test results and therapeutic success in chronic infections is probably a consequence of the use of planktonically growing instead of biofilm-growing bacteria. Therefore, several in vitro models to evaluate antimicrobial activity on biofilms have been implemented over the last decade. Microtitre plate-based assays, the Calgary device, substratum suspending reactors and the flow cell system are some of the most used in vitro biofilm models for susceptibility studies. Likewise, new pharmacodynamic parameters, including minimal biofilm inhibitory concentration, minimal biofilm-eradication concentration, biofilm bactericidal concentration, and biofilm-prevention concentration, have been defined in recent years to quantify antibiotic activity in biofilms. Using these parameters, several studies have shown very significant quantitative and qualitative differences for the effects of most antibiotics when acting on planktonic or biofilm bacteria. Nevertheless, standardization of the procedures, parameters and breakpoints, by official agencies, is needed before they are implemented in clinical microbiology laboratories for routine susceptibility testing. Research efforts should also be directed to obtaining a deeper understanding of biofilm resistance mechanisms, the evaluation of optimal pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic models for biofilm growth, and correlation with clinical outcome.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
                Appl Microbiol Biotechnol
                Springer Science and Business Media LLC
                0175-7598
                1432-0614
                April 2019
                March 1 2019
                April 2019
                : 103
                : 8
                : 3265-3276
                Article
                10.1007/s00253-019-09698-y
                © 2019

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