April 13, 2004
Oral biologists at the University at Buffalo have developed a peptide that appears to be a good candidate for treating candidiasis, a fungal condition that affects HIV patients and other people with compromised immune systems. "We wanted to develop an antifungal agent that would have fewer side effects than current treatments," said Libuse Bobek, Ph.D., professor of oral biology in the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine and senior author of the study. "We found that a peptide called MUC7 12-mer-D, a small piece of the parent human salivary protein mucin, killed 92 percent of the fungal agent Candida albicans in saliva in vitro," she said. The researchers presented their findings at the International Association of Dental Research meeting in Hawaii.
Peptides are susceptible to enzyme degradation in saliva, which renders them inactive or less active, but that is not the case with MUC7 12-mer-D, according to Bobek. "This peptide, in which D-amino acid derivatives are substituted for natural L-amino acids (producing a mirror image of the original), is not recognized and thus not broken down by protein-degrading enzymes in saliva," she said.
Bobek tested the peptide's activity in saliva and salt solutions containing C. albicans, and compared its fungicidal activity with MUC 12-mer, natural L form, the normal configuration of the peptide, which is active against C. albicans, but susceptible to enzyme degradation.