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Developing alternatives to antibiotics is the aim of scientists at Canada's University of British Columbia. New antimicrobial peptides effective against a wide range of bacteria already have been found by Inanc Birol. He's a professor at the University of British Columbia’s Department of Medical Genetics. But he also recently showed a computational approach designed to be faster and more effective at isolating new antimicrobial peptides.

Birol and his team aim to identify 10 antimicrobial peptides and test them in chicken eggs for protection from major infectious diseases. They also will analyze economic, ethical and regulatory issues related to using the peptides in agriculture. The researchers will assess opinions of stakeholders from farming and food industries as well as the general public.

"Antimicrobial resistance threatens to return to a time when even the simplest of infections could be lethal," said Catalina Lopez-Correa, chief scientific officer and vice-president of sectors at Genome British Columbia. "Antimicrobial peptides have strong potential to reduce or even replace conventional antibiotics in the agricultural sector, maintaining economic productivity while benefiting animal and human health."

The researchers were awarded a $6.9 million-grant by Genome Canada and Genome British Columbia. Visit www.genomebc.ca for more information. 

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