New low toxicity antimicrobial peptide fights MDR lung infections and could help COVID-19 patients

  • Di YP, et al.
  • Science Advances
  • 1 May 2020

  • curated by Priscilla Lynch
  • Medical News
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A new antibiotic developed to fight multidrug resistant (MDR) lung infections could be used to treat ventilator-associated pneumonia in COVID-19 patients, a new study in Science Advances has suggested.

Researchers have shown that the drug can successfully combat potentially fatal P. aeruginosa pneumonia in murine models and laboratory-cultivated human cells.

The researchers developed engineered cationic antimicrobial peptides (eCAPs) with broad activity against MDR bacteria, but stability remained an important concern. Therefore, they sought to enhance the clinical utility of eCAP WLBU2 in biological matrices relevant to respiratory infection. A designed substitution of D-Val for L-Val resulted in increased resistance to protease enzymatic degradation.

They observed multiple gains of functions such as higher activity against bacteria in biofilm mode of growth, significantly lower toxicity to erythrocytes, and white blood cells compared with WLBU2, with increased safety in mice.

Direct airway delivery revealed a therapeutic index of >140 for the selected enantiomer compared to that of

The data warrants clinical exploration by aerosolised delivery to mitigate MDR-related respiratory infection, the study authors said.

They are now exploring potential usage for cystic fibrosis patients, as well as ventilator-associated pneumonias, which are emerging as serious secondary and potentially more deadly infections in COVID-19 patients.