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Patent Awarded for Synthetic Canine Antimicrobial Peptide

Dog with mouth open (Randy Robertson/Flickr)Kansas State University in Manhattan says a team of its researchers has received a U.S. patent for their discovery of a synthetic peptide that helps dogs better fight pathogens, such as bacteria, viruses and fungi. The patent, “Antimicrobial Cathelicidin Peptides” was awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to K-State nutritionist Tonatiuh Melgarejo, immunophysiologist Frank Blecha, and former postdoctoral fellows Yongming Sang and Maria Ortega.

Peptides are small molecules that kill microbes like bacteria, viruses and yeast. The researchers used the canine genome to isolate a cathelicidin peptide found in the white blood cells of dogs. Cathelicidin peptides play a key role in early innate immunity against infections.

Different animal species, says Melgarejo, produce different antimicrobial peptides built into their DNA. Dogs have only one type of cathelicidin peptide — an indication of the peptide’s power — which led the researchers to focus on that peptide in dogs. And they modeled the properties of the naturally occurring peptide to create the synthetic version.

Despite the presence of this natural peptide, dogs still suffer from infections, which the synthetic peptide can help treat. “When I worked in the clinical sciences, I regularly treated dogs for diarrhea, coughing, ear infections, dermatitis, conjunctivitis and other diseases,” says Melgarejo. “So it’s evidently not as sturdy of an animal as it could be.”

Melgarejo, Blecha, and other K-State colleagues are further developing this synthesized cathelicidin by studying the hyena, considered one of the most resilient animals in nature. They also plan to test the synthesized peptide against canine leishmaniasis, a tropical disease that spreads from dogs to humans.

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Photo: Randy Robertson/Flickr

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