Design Of Minimal Antimicrobial Peptides For Therapeutics

Tech ID: 17-070

Inventor: Dr. Shaun Lee

Date Added: August 22, 2019



A method for designing synthetic antimicrobial peptides from bacteriocins. 

Technology Summary

With the rapid rise of multi-drug resistant bacterias, there is an urgent need for new antimicrobials. Antimicrobial peptides that attack the cellular membrane offer unique opportunities for the development of novel antibiotic alternatives. Unlike traditional antibiotics which target specific proteins and cellular processes, this non-specific mechanism of peptides of action makes bacterial resistance to antimicrobial peptides less likely. In particular, the bacteriocins, the naturally occuring antimicrobial peptides of bacteria, are a rich source of information for the design and optimization of synthetic antimicrobial peptides. 

University of Notre Dame researchers have identified a novel homologue of the bateriocin AS-48, called safencin AS-48 and designed a synthetic variant known as syn-safencin (synthetic safencin). Syn-safencin has been found to inhibit the growth of the bacterium E. coli and known agricultural pathogen X. axonopodis, while showing no cytotoxicity to human cells in culture. The researchers created a library approach in which systematic amino acid changes were made in order to increase the antimicrobial properties of syn-safencin. Nine syn-safencin variants were developed that demonstrate strong potential as agricultural defense agents and show promise for further development to treat human infections. Beyond the developed peptides, the method of development can be used with other AS-48-like bacteriocins as a template for the design of synthetic antimicrobial peptides libraries. 

Market Advantages 

  • Non-specific mechanism of action: Reduces likelihood of resistance 
  • Production: Easily produced from bacteria with options for chemical synthesis 
  • Topical: No toxicity to skin cells and potent antimicrobial activity against skin pathogens enables quick and easy topical application
  • Modifiable: Ribosomal production in bacteria makes these amenable to genetic engineering strategies

Technology Readiness Status

TRL 3 - Proof of Concept

Intellectual Property

PCT US2018/035718 (Systems and methods for designing synthetic antimicrobial peptide)


Rational design of syn-safencin, a novel linear antimicrobial peptide derived from the circular bacteriocin safencin AS-48
doi: 10.1038/s41429-018-0032-4


Richard Cox