September 22, 2023

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Scientific discovery: the venom of vipers living only on the Greek Milos will help create a new generation of antibiotics

Active antibacterial substances have been found in the venom of Milo vipers that are effective against common infectious agents: listeria* and Staphylococcus aureus.

The components of snake venom suppress their reproduction and destroy colonies. European molecular biologists for the first time studied the composition of Milo viper venom and discovered active proteins in it that could become the basis for a new generation of antibiotics.

About the opening reported on Friday, September 15, the press service of the German Senckenberg Society for the Study of Nature (SGN). Job published in the journal Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences. Tim Lüddeke, a researcher at the Institute of Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology in Giessen (Germany), says, quotes TASS message from the SGN press service:

“The venom of Milo vipers turned out to be very similar in composition and potency to the venom of the viper, one of the most poisonous snakes in Eurasia. At the same time, the venom of Milo vipers contains proteins that can destroy pathogenic microbes. Now we need to separate these molecules from other components of the venom in order to to develop drugs based on them.”

The discovery was made while studying Milos vipers (Macrovipera schweizeri), a rare species of venomous snakes that is found only on the Greek island of Milos and the neighboring Cyclades islands. It is traditionally believed that these vipers are a subspecies or closest relatives of the viper (Macrovipera lebetinus), but until now scientists have not studied in detail either the venom or the DNA structure of these snakes.

European biologists conducted such a study for the first time, for which they acquired samples of the venom of Milo vipers, as well as subspecies of vipers living in Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan. Scientists analyzed the samples taken using chromatographs and mass spectrometers, and monitored the effect of viper and viper venoms on cell and microbial cultures.

During the study, scientists were able to identify more than 400 components of Milo viper venom, including proteins from the class of metalloproteinases, phospholipases and serine proteases, which dissolve cell walls and prevent blood from clotting. This feature unites the venoms of the viper and the Greek vipers, and confirms the family ties between them.

The researchers also identified LAAO and CTL proteins and other molecules with strong bactericidal properties in Milo viper venom. These substances actively suppressed the growth of various strains of Staphylococcus aureus and some other staphylococci, as well as Listeria and pathogenic forms of Escherichia coli.

The scientific discovery of such unique properties has already prompted scientists to begin an experiment to isolate the protein components of the venom of Milo vipers. Subsequent study will help select molecules that will become the basis for a new generation of antibiotics that can destroy the most important hospital infections, the researchers hope.

*Listeria is a genus of gram-positive rod-shaped bacteria. Some species are causative agents of diseases in animals and humans. Listeriosis can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth. Newborns may also have low birth weight, septicemia, and meningitis.

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