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article imageAntibiotic found on human skin could lead to new medicine

By Tim Sandle     Apr 7, 2013 in Science
An international team of scientists has discovered an important natural antibiotic called dermcidin, produced by our skin when we sweat.
It is possible that the newly discovered antibiotic - dermcidin - could be used as the latest tool in the fight against tuberculosis. Dermcidin is an anti-microbial (antibiotic) peptide secreted by human eccrine sweat glands onto the skin as a part of the innate immune system.
When people sweat, this spreads highly efficient antibiotics across the skin. This offers some protection against microorganisms. When the skin becomes injured by a small cut, a scratch, or the sting, antibiotic agents, such as dermcidin, are secreted by sweat glands.
Although the properties of the protein were discovered about ten years ago, the capacity of the protein to be used as an antibiotic is only now being realized through experimental trials. This comes from a study carried out by researchers from the University of Edinburgh and from Goettingen, Tuebingen and Strasbourg, is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
What is important about these natural substances, known as antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), is that they could be more effective, in the long term, than traditional antibiotics. This is because, in theory, microorganisms are less capable of quickly developing resistance against them.
The scientific research could contribute to the development of new antibiotics that control multi-resistant bacteria.
According to the research note, Dr Ulrich Zachariae of the University of Edinburgh's School of Physics, said: "Antibiotics are not only available on prescription. Our own bodies produce efficient substances to fend off bacteria, fungi and viruses. Now that we know in detail how these natural antibiotics work, we can use this to help develop infection-fighting drugs that are more effective than conventional antibiotics."
More about Antibiotic, Skin, Health, Bacteria, Disease
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