Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Synthetic biology and genomics platform for new-to-nature bioactive peptides

Can the venom of snakes, scorpions and other animals be sources of new antibiotics?

Gilles van Wezel

Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC)
University of Groningen (RUG)

Supporting private partners include larger pharmas:
MADAM Therapeutics
Naturalis Biodiversity Center

New antibiotics are desperately needed, because many pathogens have become insensitive to them, with resistance existing against almost all antibiotics. Big pharmaceutical companies have abandoned or cut back antibiotic research and development, now the number of substances that can be produced under standard conditions is becoming exhausted.

Animals produce a large variety of antimicrobial peptides that play an important role in natural innate immunity and controlling microbial infections. Van Wezel, Richardson and partners will identify peptides with antimicrobial activity in the venoms of snakes, scorpions and other animals, to obtain candidate drugs. These will then be synthesized, expressed, modified and validated to obtain new-to-nature peptide antibiotics for therapeutic and nutritional use to combat infectious diseases.



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