Living organisms produce a vast array of germ-killing peptides as their first-line of defense against infection. Scientists began to learn of these molecules in the 1980s from studies by Hans Boman and colleagues at the University of Stockholm, Sweden. They found that silkworm moth pupae secrete certain peptides that destroy invading bacteria.

These controversial peptides (see Antibiotic Arms Race Heats Up) are called ribosomally synthesized antimicrobial peptides, or RAMPs. This illustration describes RAMPs currently or recently tested as antibiotics in clinical trials.

Compiled by Jack Lucentini (

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