Alligator blood to fight infections?

Do you think alligators are a thing of horror? Well, you should know that these terrifying reptiles could very well be useful to human beings, as one of the proteins contained in their blood could eventually lead to the development of a super-powerful antibiotic, as well as treatments for severe burns and ulcers.

Do you think alligators are a thing of horror? Well, you should know that these terrifying reptiles could very well be useful to human beings, as one of the proteins contained in their blood could eventually lead to the development of a super-powerful antibiotic, as well as treatments for severe burns and ulcers.

Alligators often sustain awfully serious injuries during their brutal territorial battles. Their wounds however, heal very rapidly despite the fact that they are in constant contact with fungi, bacteria and viruses present in their environment. This is what lead scientists to believe that the blood of alligators must therefore contain substances powerful enough to fight microbes.

In order to study this phenomenon, a group of researchers collected blood samples from American alligators. They then isolated the white blood cells, the cells that defend the system, and extracted the antibiotic proteins. During laboratory tests, small concentrations of these proteins were able to destroy a wide range of bacteria, including MRSA, a bacterium that is highly resistant to traditional antibiotic treatments. The proteins from alligator blood also killed six of the eight strains of Candida albicans, a yeast infection that can cause severe infections in people with seriously compromised immune systems, such as those of individuals suffering from HIV/Aids for example.

Although antibiotic resistance is rising at an alarming rate everywhere around the globe, very few new antibiotics are expected to hit the market in the coming years. Consequently, there is a very real need to discover these new kinds of medications. The next step for researchers will be to identify the exact chemical structure of the antibiotic protein, and then to proceed with clinical trials. Many more years of work will be required before patients get to benefit from the antimicrobial properties found in alligator blood.

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