BaAMPs, the first manually curated database of Biofilm-active antimicrobial peptides

BiofilmsBiofilms are aggregates of microorganisms (bacteria and fungi) adhering to various biotic or abiotic surfaces and embedded in a protective self-produced extracellular matrix.
In the medical field, Biofilms are responsible for various relevant pathological conditions such as pneumonia in cystic fibrosis, colonization of indwelling medical devices, chronic rhinosinusitis, endocarditis, and infections of wounds.
Bacteria/fungi growing in this formations display peculiar physiological properties, that render them intrinsically resistant to antibiotics or many other conventional antimicrobial agents, and extremely able to evade the human immune defences. In this context, the treatment of biofilm-associated infection results extremely challenging, and the discovery/design of compounds with novel mechanisms of action and able to target specific features of biofilm-forming cells is imperative.
Over the last years, antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) received an increasing attention as potential therapeutic agents because of their wide spectrum of activity and low rate in inducing bacterial resistance. AMPs are an abundant and diverse group of molecules recognized as the most ancient components of the innate immune system and can be found in a wide variety of organisms. In recent years there has been increased interest in the use of AMPs as prophylactic and/or therapeutic agents for the control of biofilm-related infections.
Mariagrazia Di Luca (Istituto Nanoscienze – Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche and Scuola Normale Superiore) and Giuseppe Maccari (Center for Nanotechnology Innovation (CNI) of the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia), in collaboration with researchers from University of Pisa, have been developed BaAMPs, the first biofilm-active AMPs database. BaAMPs was designed with the key objective to facilitate the access to important data on AMPs specifically tested against microbial biofilms. To this aim, BaAMPs provides information on: i) sequences and physiochemical properties of AMPs tested against microbial biofilms; ii) evaluation of peptide antibiofilm activities in terms of active AMP concentrations and corresponding biofilm reduction; iii) experimental conditions used to evaluate the activity; iv) methods used to evaluate the reduction of biofilm; v) microbial species/strains towards which activity was evaluated. All these pieces of information were manually extracted or extrapolated from the literature, and were collected in the database in order to provide the vast scientific community involved in AMP research with a unique open access platform useful for consultation and in particular for assisting the computational design of novel AMPs specifically active against biofilm forms.
BaAMPs can be freely accessed via the Internet at http://www.baamps.it.