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Yechiel Shai talks with ScienceWatch.com and answers a few questions about this month's Fast Moving Front in the field of Microbiology.
Shai Article: Mode of action of membrane active antimicrobial peptides
Authors: Shai, Y
Journal: BIOPOLYMERS, 66 (4): 236-248 2002
Addresses: Weizmann Inst Sci, Dept Biol Chem, IL-76100 Rehovot, Israel.
Weizmann Inst Sci, Dept Biol Chem, IL-76100 Rehovot, Israel.

  Why do you think your paper is highly cited?

The increasing rate of resistant bacteria to conventional antibiotics is a worldwide threat. This article emerged as a byproduct of increasing efforts to design new antibiotics with a new mode of action.

  Does it describe a new discovery, methodology, or synthesis of knowledge?

The paper summarizes studies aimed at developing a new generation of antibiotics which mimic innate immunity host-defense peptides.

  Would you summarize the significance of your paper in layman's terms?

The paper summarizes and highlights new studies and new compounds which shed light on the mode of action of the new generation of innate immunity-like antimicrobial peptides

  How did you become involved in this research and were there any particular problems encountered along the way?

The first compounds to be discovered were thought to represent a new family of small ion channels, a topic which we investigated. When new studies emerged showing that such compounds are used by nature to combat pathogen invasion, we put more effort on that topic and used a multidisciplinary approach to understand the parameters involved in their ability to selectively kill microorganisms but not normal cells.

  Where do you see your research leading in the future?

Toward the development of new antibiotics which hopefully will overcome bacterial resistance.

Do you foresee any social or political implications for your research?

Yes, in removing the threat of drug resistant bacteria.

Keywords: membrane active antimicrobial peptides, new antibiotics, innate immunity host-defense peptides.

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2008 : July 2008 - Fast Moving Fronts : Yechiel Shai