While working with a group of amphibians in the mid 1980s, Dr. Zasloff noted that these animals seemed to be less susceptible to infection than he expected. He determined that excretions from the skins of these animals possessed antimicrobial properties, and from these excretions he isolated linear peptides that he termed magainins (magen or magain is the Hebrew word for shield).
AMPs have been produced for eons ranging from humans to animals to insects to plants. Their presence in such a wide array of organisms indicates that they continue to play key and essential roles in controlling bacterial growth. AMPs constitute the most common means of controlling bacterial growth found in nature. AMPs are, in general, broad spectrum, bactericidal compounds.