Newly-discovered compounds that are highly effective at killing fungi are so deadly they have been named after Keanu Reeves.
A recent study published by the Journal of the American Chemical Society reports that these microbes - now called keanumycins - are natural byproducts of a bacteria found in soil and water called Pseudomonas.
"[The fungi] kill so efficiently that we named them after Keanu Reeves because he, too, is extremely deadly in his roles," said Sebastian Götze, a study co-author.
Reeves has starred in many films where he plays deadly killers, most recently in the John Wick franchise. These keanumycins dispatch fungi as effectively as Wick neutralizes any target in his way.
The discovery is crucial as many fungi are now highly resistant to antifungal products due to their widespread usage in agriculture. This has led to fungi being resistant to substances that would kill them, which could be a significant issue when dealing with fungi that can cause human illness. The keanumycins present a solution to overcome this challenge.
In testing, researchers reported the keanumycins were effective in neutralizing Botrytis cinerea (grey mold) and Candida albicans (a yeast that can cause infection).
Keanumycins can also significantly help the pharmaceutical industry. They may get utilized as a base for new antifungal drugs that can neutralize fungi in a way that current antifungals cannot. The newly-named compounds are environmentally friendly as they are biodegradable, and they are not harmful to human cells as well.
The name christening comes on the heels of the popularity of HBO's The Last of Us television adaptation. The show centers around characters navigating a post-apocalyptic society brought about by a viral, fungal infection.
Most of the show is about the cordyceps fungus, which can infect ants and turn them into "zombies." The show's popularity has renewed interest in fungal infections and how to deal with them in real life.
Further research is required to test the extent of keanumycin's lethal effect on fungi. Researchers are also hopeful to try if other byproducts of the Pseudomonas bacteria have a similar effect on fungi.
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