Pharmaceuticals2013, 6(12), 1543-1575; doi:10.3390/ph6121543 - published online 28 November 2013 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The rapid increase in drug-resistant infections has presented a serious challenge to antimicrobial therapies. The failure of the most potent antibiotics to kill “superbugs” emphasizes the urgent need to develop other control agents. Here we review the history and new development of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), a growing class of natural and synthetic peptides with a wide spectrum of targets including viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites. We summarize the major types of AMPs, their modes of action, and the common mechanisms of AMP resistance. In addition, we discuss the principles for designing effective AMPs and the potential of using AMPs to control biofilms (multicellular structures of bacteria embedded in extracellular matrixes) and persister cells (dormant phenotypic variants of bacterial cells that are highly tolerant to antibiotics).
Pharmaceuticals2013, 6(12), 1507-1542; doi:10.3390/ph6121507 - published online 25 November 2013 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Viruses replicate inside the cells of an organism and continuously evolve to contend with an ever-changing environment. Many life-threatening diseases, such as AIDS, SARS, hepatitis and some cancers, are caused by viruses. Because viruses have small genome sizes and high mutability, there is currently a lack of and an urgent need for effective treatment for many viral pathogens. One approach that has recently received much attention is aptamer-based therapeutics. Aptamer technology has high target specificity and versatility, i.e., any viral proteins could potentially be targeted. Consequently, new aptamer-based therapeutics have the potential to lead a revolution in the development of anti-infective drugs. Additionally, aptamers can potentially bind any targets and any pathogen that is theoretically amenable to rapid targeting, making aptamers invaluable tools for treating a wide range of diseases. This review will provide a broad, comprehensive overview of viral therapies that use aptamers. The aptamer selection process will be described, followed by an explanation of the potential for treating virus infection by aptamers. Recent progress and prospective use of aptamers against a large variety of human viruses, such as HIV-1, HCV, HBV, SCoV, Rabies virus, HPV, HSV and influenza virus, with particular focus on clinical development of aptamers will also be described. Finally, we will discuss the challenges of advancing antiviral aptamer therapeutics and prospects for future success.
Pharmaceuticals2013, 6(12), 1475-1506; doi:10.3390/ph6121475 - published online 25 November 2013 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is a grade IV brain tumor characterized by a heterogeneous population of cells that are highly infiltrative, angiogenic and resistant to chemotherapy. The current standard of care, comprised of surgical resection followed by radiation and the chemotherapeutic agent temozolomide, only provides patients with a 12–14 month survival period post-diagnosis. Long-term survival for GBM patients remains uncommon as cells with intrinsic or acquired resistance to treatment repopulate the tumor. In this review we will describe the mechanisms of resistance, and how they may be overcome to improve the survival of GBM patients by implementing novel chemotherapy drugs, new drug combinations and new approaches relating to DNA damage, angiogenesis and autophagy.
Pharmaceuticals2013, 6(12), 1451-1474; doi:10.3390/ph6121451 - published online 25 November 2013 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The increasing resistance of microorganisms to conventional chemicals and drugs is a serious and evident worldwide problem that has prompted research into the identification of new biocides with broad activity. Plants and their derivatives, such as essential oils, are often used in folk medicine. In nature, essential oils play an important role in the protection of plants. Essential oils contain a wide variety of secondary metabolites that are capable of inhibiting or slowing the growth of bacteria, yeasts and moulds. Essential oils and their components have activity against a variety of targets, particularly the membrane and cytoplasm, and in some cases, they completely change the morphology of the cells. This brief review describes the activity of essential oils against pathogenic bacteria.
Pharmaceuticals2013, 6(11), 1429-1450; doi:10.3390/ph6111429 - published online 11 November 2013 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Previous reports have demonstrated a role for hedgehog signaling in melanoma progression, prompting us to explore the therapeutic benefit of targeting this pathway in melanoma. We profiled a panel of human melanoma cell lines and control melanocytes for altered expression of hedgehog pathway members and determined the consequences of both genetic and pharmacological inhibition of the hedgehog pathway activator Smoothened (SMO) in melanoma, both in vitro and in vivo. We also examined the relationship between altered expression of hedgehog pathway mediators and survival in a well-characterized cohort of metastatic melanoma patients with prospectively collected follow up information. Studies revealed that over 40% of the melanoma cell lines examined harbored significantly elevated levels of the hedgehog pathway mediators SMO, GLI2, and PTCH1 compared to melanocytes (p < 0.05). SMO inhibition using siRNA and the small molecule inhibitor, NVP-LDE-225, suppressed melanoma growth in vitro, particularly in those cell lines with moderate SMO and GLI2 expression. NVP-LDE-225 also induced apoptosis in vitro and inhibited melanoma growth in a xenograft model. Gene expression data also revealed evidence of compensatory up-regulation of two other developmental pathways, Notch and WNT, in response to hedgehog pathway inhibition. Pharmacological and genetic SMO inhibition also downregulated genes involved in human embryonic stem cell pluripotency. Finally, increased SMO expression and decreased expression of the hedgehog pathway repressor GLI3 correlated with shorter post recurrence survival in metastatic melanoma patients. Our data demonstrate that hedgehog pathway inhibition might be a promising targeted therapy in appropriately selected metastatic melanoma patients.
Pharmaceuticals2013, 6(11), 1407-1428; doi:10.3390/ph6111407 - published online 11 November 2013 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: A fundamental role of the Hsp90-Cdc37 chaperone system in mediating maturation of protein kinase clients and supporting kinase functional activity is essential for the integrity and viability of signaling pathways involved in cell cycle control and organism development. Despite significant advances in understanding structure and function of molecular chaperones, the molecular mechanisms and guiding principles of kinase recruitment to the chaperone system are lacking quantitative characterization. Structural and thermodynamic characterization of Hsp90-Cdc37 binding with protein kinase clients by modern experimental techniques is highly challenging, owing to a transient nature of chaperone-mediated interactions. In this work, we used experimentally-guided protein docking to probe the allosteric nature of the Hsp90-Cdc37 binding with the cyclin-dependent kinase 4 (Cdk4) kinase clients. The results of docking simulations suggest that the kinase recognition and recruitment to the chaperone system may be primarily determined by Cdc37 targeting of the N-terminal kinase lobe. The interactions of Hsp90 with the C-terminal kinase lobe may provide additional “molecular brakes” that can lock (or unlock) kinase from the system during client loading (release) stages. The results of this study support a central role of the Cdc37 chaperone in recognition and recruitment of the kinase clients. Structural analysis may have useful implications in developing strategies for allosteric inhibition of protein kinases by targeting the Hsp90-Cdc37 chaperone machinery.