How do antimicrobials target pathogens?

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Offline thedoc

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How do antimicrobials target pathogens?
« on: 18/07/2012 16:30:01 »
Natalie Yelovick asked the Naked Scientists:
My name is Natalie Yelovick. I am the third year student of the Chemistry Faculty of Moscow State University.

I've been listening to TNS podcasts since 2008 and it still does really helps me to relax and fill brains with useful stuff one at the same time. So there is a BIG-BIG "THANK YOU!" to all of you making such a great project. Keep it up!

Now there is one question I hope you can help me with.

Recently, together with my friend, we found the scientific report about
bacteria-killing "ninja polymers" (

This is amaizing how simple the solution to a big problem can be.

But the thing we can't understand is how does the polymer "searches"
bad bacteria? Does it's potential differs dramatically compared to normall cells?

There is unfortunately no references to scientific articles and even
no names in the report. If it does not bother you could you please help us to find some information on related articles.

Thank you!

Best Regards,
What do you think?
« Last Edit: 18/07/2012 16:30:01 by _system »


Offline antibioticpharm

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Re: How do antimicrobials target pathogens?
« Reply #1 on: 18/07/2012 17:56:02 »
Whilst I know nothing of 'ninja polymers' there are other antimicrobials that target cell membranes - daptomycin for example.  See


Offline cheryl j

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Re: How do antimicrobials target pathogens?
« Reply #2 on: 28/07/2012 02:52:43 »
Anitbiotics usually interfere with something that human cells don't have, such as cell walls, or inhibit a metabolic reaction unique to certain bacteria.  If you look up a particular antibiotic drug in a reference book or google it,  it should explain specifically that drug's particular mechanism of action. Some drugs don't actually "kill" the bacteria, but slow cell division enough to give the immune system time to catch up.


Offline CliffordK

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Re: How do antimicrobials target pathogens?
« Reply #3 on: 28/07/2012 05:17:27 »
This polymer antibiotic sounds very interesting.  I would imagine it would first get used in surface antimicrobials due to ease of approval.  Although perhaps that is a bad idea, as perhaps a new drug classification should be well protected to prevent the evolution of microbial resistance (if that is possible).

The film indicates that the bacteria and human cells have different static charges.  Human cells actively pump potassium inside and sodium outside, with a somewhat higher concentration of sodium outside than inside.  Anyway, so the cells have a slight negative charge inside, and positive charge outside.

Here is from the film clip.


So, I would interpret that the polymer attacks cells with internal negative charges...  which sounds bad.  But, perhaps this is mistaken. 

This also would have little impact on intracellular bacteria.

I would worry that the polymer could lyse neurons that are active with action potentials.  Or cardiac cells?  Also, look for impacts on the kidneys and liver. 

Anyway, it is always a long route from in-vitro testing to animal in-vivo testing to primate testing to human  trials, but it sounds like a very promising drug.