Neutrons—Fighting superbugs

By: Josh Witt

Direct Link to Article Highlight Archives

HDIAC Highlight

Neutron scattering allowed direct observation of how aurein induces lateral segregation in the bacteria membranes, which creates instability in the membrane structure. This instability causes the membranes to fail, making harmful bacteria less effective. Reprinted with permission from “Effect of an Antimicrobial Peptide on Lateral Segregation of Lipids, a Structure and Dynamics Study by Neutron Scattering,” Veerendra Kumar Sharma and Shuo Qian. Langmuir.

As the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria known as superbugs threatens public health, Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Shuo Qian and Veerendra Sharma from the Bhaba Atomic Research Centre in India are using neutron scattering to study how an antibacterial peptide interacts with and fights harmful bacteria. Using Bio-SANS and BASIS, instruments at ORNL’s neutron scattering facilities, the researchers used neutrons’ unique hydrogen sensitivity to observe the model membranes of the hydrogen-rich bacteria while the peptide, known as aurein 1.2, caused instability in the bacteria and affected their movement. “Because bacteria are charged and our body cells are neutral, aurein can target harmful bacteria, bind with them and neutralize them,” said Qian. “We aren’t looking at aurein and bacteria membranes independently; we’re looking at the interactions between both.” The researchers’ findings could help improve antibiotics and make them more effective in fighting superbugs. This research was published in Langmuir.


About this Publication:

All information regarding non-federal, third party entities posted on the HDIAC website shall be considered informational, aimed to advance the Department of Defense (DoD) Information Analysis Center (IAC) objective of providing knowledge to the Government, academia, and private industry. Through these postings, HDIAC’s goal is to provide awareness of opportunities to interact and collaborate. The presence of non-federal, third party information does not constitute an endorsement by the United States DoD or HDIAC of any non-federal entity or event sponsored by a non-federal entity. The appearance of external hyperlinks in this publication and reference herein to any specific commercial products, processes, or services by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the United States Government or HDIAC. HDIAC is a DoD sponsored IAC, with policy oversight provided by the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (USD (R&E)), and administratively managed by the Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC). For permission and restrictions on reprinting, please contact publications@hdiac.org. Any views or opinions expressed on this website do not represent those of HDIAC, DTIC, or the DoD.