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Israeli Scientists Use Red Algae against Anti-Biotic Resistant Bacteria

red algae

The Cu–Polysaccharide Complex, Photo Credit Prof. Ariel Kushmaro

Israeli scientists from the Ben-Gurion University (BGU) in the Negev have found that red algae can be used to find ways of dealing with anti-biotic resistant strains of bacteria.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) explains antimicrobial resistance happens when germs like bacteria and fungi develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill them. That means the germs are not killed and continue to grow. Resistant infections can be difficult, and sometimes impossible, to treat.

The CDC says antimicrobial resistance is an urgent global public health threat, killing at least 1.27 million people worldwide and associated with nearly 5 million deaths in 2019. In the U.S., more than 2.8 million antimicrobial-resistant infections occur each year. More than 35,000 people die as a result, according to CDC’s 2019 Antibiotic Resistance (AR) Threats Report.

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This is why the new research from BGU is so important. If bacteria and other forms of disease can no longer be defeated with traditional treatments and medications, then new ones need to be developed.

Prof. Shoshana (Mails) Arad and Prof. Ariel Kushmaro, Prof. Levi A. Gheber and PhD. student Nofar Yehuda joined a metal and a polysaccharide together and discovered the new compound worked well against bacteria and fungus (Candida albicans) because of the longer and denser spikes on its surface that poked holes in the membrane and killed off the bacteria and the fungus.

“A polysaccharide is a carbohydrate with linked sugar molecules and by adding a metal (Cu), we were able to create an effective new material,” according to the researchers.

The findings were published recently in the peer-reviewed journal Marine Drugs as the new compound is derived from marine red microalga Porphyridium sp.

Commercialization of these new compounds could come sooner rather than later.

“In light of the increased resistance to antibiotic and antifungal agents, there is a growing need for the development of new and improved treatments. BGN Technologies holds a patent application ready for licensing in the field,” say BGN’s Galit Mazooz-Perlmuter and Anat Shperberg Avni. BGN Technologies is BGU’s technology transfer company.

Encyclopedia Britannica explains red algae, (division Rhodophyta), is any of about 6,000 species of predominantly marine algae, often found attached to other shore plants. Their morphological range includes filamentous, branched, feathered, and sheetlike thalli. The taxonomy of the group is contentious, and organization of the division Rhodophyta may not accurately reflect the phylogeny (evolutionary relationships) of its members.

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