Kaye Innovation Award to Prof Zvi Hayouka

23 June, 2022

Random Antimicrobial Peptide Mixture to Tackle Bacterial Contamination in Various Technologies

         Image credits: Maxim Dinshtein

Antimicrobial peptides were proposed as potential agents for the development of new antimicrobial agents, but their high production cost hindered these attempts. We have developed a cheap and easy approach to synthesize antimicrobial random peptide mixtures (RPMs) that have great potential as novel antimicrobial agents for various applications and technologies. Instead of using a single amino acid for each coupling step during the synthesis, we use a defined mixture of two amino acids to generate 2n sequences of random peptides with a defined composition and chain length. This modification significantly reduces the production cost since no purification step is needed after the synthesis, as required in the conventional method. Additionally, the cocktail of peptides will reduce or prevent the development of bacterial resistance. Our analyses demonstrates that random peptides composed of hydrophobic and cationic amino acids display potent antimicrobial activity and high selectivity.

We demonstrated that RPMs have tremendous potential to be used as:

1) Safe food preservatives;

2) Bioactive packaging for food products;

3) Treating drinking water;

4) Crop protection agents; and

5) Safe and efficient peptide-based antibiotic agents.

Prof. Zvi Hayouka studied at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. He completed his Ph.D. in Chemistry in 2011, under the supervision of Professors Assaf Friedler and Abraham Loyter, graduating summa cum laude. In 2012, as a Fulbright Scholar, Prof. Hayouka relocated to the Department of Chemistry at UW-Madison. Working in Prof. Samuel Gellman’s lab, he designed and characterized novel antimicrobial copolymers and peptides. In 2014, he joined the Institute of Biochemistry, Food Science and Nutrition at The Hebrew University as a faculty member. He subsequently established his own research lab that focuses on the development of novel chemical tools to tackle pathogenic bacteria. Prof. Hayouka has published over 65 papers, 10 patents applications, and has recently founded two startup companies.