Defensins in the News

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Last updated: 2nd June 2010

Defensins in the News
Source: EurekAlert
Honey as an antibiotic: Scientists identify a secret ingredient in honey that kills bacteria
"To make the discovery, Zaat and colleagues investigated the antibacterial activity of medical-grade honey in test tubes against a panel of antibiotic-resistant, disease-causing bacteria. They developed a method to selectively neutralize the known antibacterial factors in honey and determine their individual antibacterial contributions. Ultimately, researchers isolated the defensin-1 protein, which is part of the honey bee immune system and is added by bees to honey. After analysis, the scientists concluded that the vast majority of honey's antibacterial properties come from that protein. This information also sheds light on the inner workings of honey bee immune systems, which may one day help breeders create healthier and heartier honey bees."
30th Jun 2010

Source: EurekAlert
Plants spice up their sex life with defensins
The research team, led by Dr. Thomas Dresselhaus from the Regensburg Center of Biochemistry and Biophysics, showed that special forms of defensins are released by the egg apparatus in maize to open up potassium-ion channels in the male partner – the pollen tube – resulting in an explosive release of male sperm cells. This process is a pre-requisite for the fertilization that follows. These results shed a completely new light on the evolution of processes necessary for the fertilization of flowering plants, and may lead to new possibilities for overcoming the barrier between crops that cannot yet be crossed.
1st Jun 2010

Source: HealthCanal
Searching for brain's defenses to ward off infections, prevent memory loss
Researchers at the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine and School of Medicine begin an exploratory study of human beta defensins 1 and 2 in Alzheimer's disease (AD), in the astrocytes and microglia of donated human brain tissue. Preliminary findings by the researchers had suggested that beta defensins may be adversely affected by AD, thus contributing to chronic inflammation that can lead to neuronal cell death. "We don't know what we will find. This study is thinking outside the box for something that has not been studied previously," said Williams.
6th Apr 2010

Source: EurekAlert
Pitt team first to profile genes in acutely ill idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis patients
"But nearly 600 genes were differentially expressed between IPF patients who had accelerated disease and those who were stable." There was no evidence that infection or inflammation was the cause of disease acceleration [...] Instead, there were indications that the cells of the alveolar epithelium, which is the tissue that covers the surface of the air sacs, were rapidly dying. [...] levels of a protein called alpha-defensin were particularly high in the blood of patients experiencing an exacerbation. If the findings are verified with more research, which is underway, the proteins could be the first biomarker blood tests that doctors could track to identify patients at risk for sudden deterioration of lung function.
7th Jul 2009

Source: EarthTimes
PolyMedix receives regulatory clearance to initiate second Phase I clinical study of novel systemic antibiotic compound
This second Phase I clinical trial will assess the safety of PMX-30063 given repeatedly over a period of several days. Healthy volunteers will each receive a dose of PMX-30063 every 12, 24, or 48 hours for a total of 5 to 10 doses. The previous study provided information on the time course of the drug in humans after single doses, indicating that regular once-daily dosing would provide sufficient drug levels for treating the infections to be targeted. This study is planned to confirm those expectations, and comparison with doses given every 12 or 48 hours will provide valuable data on how the drug might be used most effectively against target bacteria.
21st May 2009

Source: World Science
Wolf in dog's clothing? Study points to twist in fur color
Barsh's laboratory discovered in 2007 that the beta-defensin gene was one of the genes coding for black fur in dogs. "Domestic dogs that bred with wolves thousands of years ago passed a muta­tion for dark fur to their form­er ances­tors. As a re­sult, the Gray Wolf, or Canis lu­pus, is not always gray. The effect was more than just cos­met­ic, they add: the re­sulting black wolves, in­hab­i­tants of North Amer­i­ca, seem to have an ev­o­lu­tion­ary ad­van­tage over lighter-col­ored wolves in for­ests."
6th Feb 2009

Source: PalmBeachPost
Saving citrus: Greening threatens groves, but a cure may lurk in disease-resistant trees from China, and spinach
"Worried may be an understatement. Florida growers may have struggled with canker, which blemishes fruit, but they talk about greening in apocalyptic terms: Unlike canker, greening kills trees. Many believe it is capable of wiping out the state's citrus groves. In the lab, the spinach gene was inserted into citrus chromosomes that were then grown into tiny trees - tiny trees with apparent resistance to greening and canker, at least in the lab. 'When the (greening) bacterium sees the spinach defensin, it has never seen that before in citrus and doesn't know how to get around it,' Mirkov said."
12th Jan 2009

Source: Australian Life Scientist
Hexima puts up its defensins
Agbiotech company Hexima has concluded a set of trials of its defensin-based technology in cotton crops. The trials tested the company's genetically modified strains against two common fungal diseases, verticillium wilt and fusarium wilt. Both crops demonstrated increased yield, and the modified plants in the fusarium trial showed increased survival rates. A third, healthy, crop was also modified with defensin to test the effect of the technology on healthy plants. The crop showed no adverse effects.
31st Jul 2008
FULL STORY »

Source: NewScientistTech
First-ever defensin mimetic to enter clinical trials
"For conventional antibiotics, you generally find it takes 100 times more of the antibiotic to kill the bacteria after 9 repeats," says Nick Landekic, PolyMedix's chief executive. "We've done 14 repeats with PMX-30063 and there is no change in its potency."
17th May 2008

Source: EurekAlert
Bypassing the insulin highway
The human alpha-defensins HNP-1 and HNP-2 decrease blood glucose levels in normal mice as well as in insulin-resistant Zucker diabetic fatty rats, primarily through inhibition of endogenous glucose production. This inhibition is independent of the insulin receptor IRS1 in the classical insulin-signaling pathway. It therefore offers a new avenue of treatment for insulin-resistant (type II) diabetes. The report has been published in the May 2nd 2008 issue of JBC.
25th Apr 2008