Solid state NMR is unlocking the secrets of compounds found in natural membranes from frogs’ legs to human lungs that could lead to an entirely new class of antibiotic drugs. The compounds in question are antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) and they have been detected in every living creature studied so far. AMPs act as a first line chemical defence system in a huge range of organisms and could provide a novel approach to defeating drugs resistance in bacteria.
“Our overall mission is to use the kind of basic physical data we obtain from NMR to help interpret biological functions,” team leader Ayyalusamy Ramamoorthy of the University of Michigan explains. As with most discoveries of this nature, it will be several years before any clinical trials for specific health problems or diseases are complete. “How it works against viruses are under investigation in other labs,” Ramamoorthy told me.
You can find out more about AMPs as the front line defenders in the latest issue of SpectroscopyNOW.