Yechiel Shai talks with
ScienceWatch.com and answers a few questions about
this month's Fast Moving Front in the field of
Article: Mode of action of membrane active
Journal: BIOPOLYMERS, 66 (4): 236-248 2002
Addresses: Weizmann Inst Sci, Dept Biol Chem, IL-76100
Weizmann Inst Sci, Dept Biol Chem, IL-76100 Rehovot,
Why do you think your paper is highly
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
Toward the development of new antibiotics which hopefully will overcome
Do you foresee any social or political implications for your
Yes, in removing the threat of drug resistant bacteria.
Keywords: membrane active antimicrobial peptides, new antibiotics, innate
immunity host-defense peptides.