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UBC professor finds new weapon against antibiotic-resistant bugs

A peptide destroyed some of the most resistant bacteria doctors are currently struggling to treat

UBC researchers have discovered a peptide that is able to destroy antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

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UBC researchers have discovered a peptide that is able to destroy antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

A UBC professor has made an important discovery in the fight against superbugs – a molecule that destroys strains of bacteria resistant to antibiotics.

Researcher Bob Hancock made the discovery while his team was looking for a solution to abscesses, a condition where patients develop reoccurring fluid-filled pockets that don’t respond well to traditional antibiotic treatments.

It turned out that a humble peptide, made up of amino acids, was able to destroy the bacteria-filled abscesses.

“When we treated animals that had acquired abscesses with the peptide, it actually prevented the bacteria from causing damage to the animal,” said the microbiology professor.

Hancock tested the peptide against some of the most resistant bacteria doctors are currently struggling to treat and it worked – the bacteria were no match for the synthetic peptide. 

“We’ve shown that they work against most of the superbugs. In this case, we actually tested the worst bacteria in our society.”

Those bacteria include Pseudomonas aeruginosa and MRSA methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

Hancock hopes the peptide can be fast tracked to clinical trials and that in two or three years, doctors will be able to use it in conjunction with antibiotics to destroy superbugs.

“Even against mutants that are resistant to antibiotics, these peptides will actually allow the antibiotics to work.” 

This peptide is the centre of UBC professor  Bob Hancock's research.

Bob Hancock/Contributed

This peptide is the centre of UBC professor Bob Hancock's research.

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