Our friend and an unofficial consultant to Medgadget on all things nanomedicine, Dr. David Gidalevitz was recently profiled by Illinois Institute of Technology Magazine. David is an IIT Coleman Faculty Scholar and Assistant Professor of Physics who does some amazing nano research with potentially huge clinical implications:
Gidalevitz’s work involves the construction of membrane mimics, manmade nanostructures imitative of natural cell walls. He uses these mimics to better understand the precise mechanisms that allow AMPs to recognize and disrupt bacterial cell membranes, despite their structural variation.
Although some experimental drugs composed of naturally occurring AMPs have been attempted, such compounds are quickly recognized by proteases in the body and destroyed before they are able to act. On the other hand, ampetoids—mimics of natural AMPs—are different. “Antimicrobial peptide mimics won’t interfere with general biological systems,” Gidalevitz says. “They’re not recognized as such.”
To study the structure of membrane mimics and their interactions with AMPs, Gidalevitz takes a new approach, using sensitive technologies, including synchrotron-grazing incidence X-ray diffraction and X-ray reflexivity, in collaboration with Argonne National Laboratory. “To investigate the action of the peptides and membrane mimics with these techniques is fairly novel,” Gidalevitz notes. “These are definitely not tools used by a majority of biologists.”
Unlike natural cell walls, which are composed of a lipid bilayer, Gidalevitz’s membrane mimics are monolayer structures applied to an aqueous surface in which natural AMPs are dissolved.
Side image: Grazing incidence X-ray diffraction pattern of phospholipid monolayer mimicking the surface of the red blood cell; [left] before injection of human antimicrobial peptide LL-37; [right] after peptide injection
Link: IIT Magazine (page 10)