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Are antimicrobial peptides an alternative for conventional antibiotics?

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Department of Physical Chemistry, Faculty of Pharmacy, Medical University of Gdańsk, Poland.


Antimicrobial peptides are widespread in living organisms and constitute an important component of innate immunity to microbial infections. By the early 1980s, more than 800 different antimicrobial peptides had been isolated from mammals, amphibians, fish, insects, plants and bacterial species. In humans, they are produced by granulocytes, macrophages and most epithelial and endothelial cells. Newly discovered antibiotics have antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and even antiprotozoal activity. Occasionally, a single antibiotic may have a very wide spectrum of activity and may show activity towards various kinds of microorganisms. Although antimicrobial activity is the most typical function of peptides, they are also characterized by numerous other properties. They stimulate the immune system, have anti-neoplastic properties and participate in cell signalling and proliferation regulation. As antimicrobial peptides from higher eukaryotes differ structurally from conventional antibiotics produced by bacteria and fungi, they offer novel templates for pharmaceutical compounds, which could be used effectively against the increasing number of resistant microbes.

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