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Tuesday 6th June 2023 / 17 Zulkaedah 1444

Here’s why scientists named newly discovered chemicals after Keanu Reeves

"Keanumycins," recently identified fungus-killing compounds that are considered so effective by scientists they have been named after actor Keanu Reeves in reference to his "deadly" roles. PHOTO: JON KOPALOFF/GETTY

Newly discovered fungus-killing compounds were so lethal that German researchers had to give them a special name. They found three natural substances so lethal to fungi, that they’ve named the chemicals after actor Keanu Reeves in honor of the way he gets rid of bad guys in movies like “John Wick” and “The Matrix.”

Sebastian Götze, a researcher at Germany’s Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infectious Biology, who is also a coauthor of the paper, claims that the prospective cure for fungi comes at a time when the organisms are developing a greater resistance to recognized antifungals. Researchers discovered the chemicals — molecules often found in bacteria called lipopeptides — to be an excellent treatment against human fungal infections in addition to being effective against plants.

The study was published recently in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Keanumycins come from a bacteria of the genus Pseudomonas. The compounds were found to be effective against various plant fungal diseases, as well as human-pathogenic fungi.

 “The lipopeptides kill so efficiently that we named them after Keanu Reeves because he, too, is extremely deadly in his roles,” Götze said in a statement.

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“We have a crisis in anti-infectives. … Many human-pathogenic fungi are now resistant to antimycotics (antifungals) — partly because they are used in large quantities in agricultural fields.”

Called “keanumycins,” the newly found antimicrobial compounds are a natural byproduct of the bacteria Pseudomonas typically found in soil and water. Researchers came across the compounds when studying Pseudomonas for their effectiveness against predatory amoebas.

Scientists have known that “many of these bacterial species (Pseudomonas) are very toxic to amoebae, which feed on bacteria,” said lead study author Pierre Stallforth, head of the department of paleobiotechnology at the Leibniz Institute, in a statement. Stallforth and his fellow researchers wanted to explore the bacteria’s effectiveness against fungi, which have a cell structure similar to that of amoebas, according to the study.

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