Actor Keanu Reeves has responded to news that a fungus-killing bacteria has been named after him. The Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology last month announced that researchers have created a new molecule that “kills so efficiently that we named it after Keanu Reeves because he, too, is extremely deadly in his roles”.
According to The Independent, the molecule is called “keanumycin” and it has been shown to kill fungal infections in humans while leaving healthy cells alone. The molecule also works “effectively” against the plant pest Botrytis cinerea which triggers grey mould rot and causes immense harvest losses every year.
Now, reacting to this, in an “Ask Me Anything” thread on Reddit this week, the ‘John Wick’ actor said, “They should’ve called it John Wick… but that’s pretty cool… and surreal for me. But thanks, scientist people! Good luck, and thank you for helping us”.
According to Phys Org, keanumycins molecules can be “environmentally friendly alternative” to chemical pesticides and may also offer an alternative in the fight against drug-resistant fungi.
The development of keanumycins was spurred by fungal organisms like Candida albicans, a cause of yeast infections in humans, that have grown increasingly resistant to existing treatments, explained Sebastian Gotze, the co-author of the study.
“Many human-pathogenic fungi are now resistant to antimycotics (antifungal) – partly because they are used in large quantities in agricultural fields,” Mr Gotze said.
Separately, speaking to the New York Times, Pierre Stallforth, another author of the study, said, “Keanu Reeves plays many iconic roles in which he is extremely efficient in ‘inactivating’ his enemies. The keanymycins do the same with fungi”.
Meanwhile, according to The Independent, Mr Reeves is not the first celebrity to have an organism named after him.
Back in 2009, a diving beetle was named after American comedian and TV host Steven Colbert because he “asked the science community to name something cooler than a spider to honour him”.
Kate Winslet also has a beetle named after her. Ellen DeGeneres, Jimmy Fallon, Lady Gaga, Jon Stewart and Shakira have wasps named after them.