Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists have developed a new method to create antimicrobials that kill disease-causing pathogens, which in turn, can be used as an alternative to antibiotics.
Growing concerns about antibiotic resistance to certain strains of bacteria and increasing restrictions on the use of antibiotics in animals has accelerated the need to find alternatives. Scientists with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) are working to provide new strategies for enhancing production and improving overall animal health. The research supports the USDA priority of promoting international food security.
Collaborating with industry, university and federal scientists, Donovan demonstrated that these particular enzymes have molecular domains that can be isolated and will act independently of their protein surroundings. They kill bacteria by eating or chewing up the walls of cells. The enzymes can be manipulated to create an antimicrobial that targets and kills only specific pathogens, which greatly reduces the probability that non-targeted bacteria will develop resistance.