JUL 15, 2017 12:56 PM PDT

Unlikely Animals that Can Cure Our Ails

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

With superbugs on the rise and an apparent limited arsenal of antibiotics, scientists are forced to look for treatments from more unconventional sources.

One of the sources for a new antibiotic could reside in the blood of the Komodo dragon. Scientists observed that while the saliva of Komodo dragons are teeming with bacteria, the animal itself is completely unscathed by this infestation. What mystery molecules could Komodo dragons be harboring in their body to ward off the bacteria? As it turns out, dragon's blood contains a protein that confers antimicrobial activity, which would explain why Komodo dragons seem to be immune to the bacteria's presence. Scientists have already created a synthetic peptide based this protein, named DRGN-1. If future studies provide promising results, the next antibiotic could be based on the dragon's blood.

Another unlikely source of new medicine comes from a sponge in the Arctic Ocean. From freeze-dried Antarctic sponges, scientists extracted and purified a chemical that they named darwinolide. The compound proved to be effective against the biofilm phase of MRSA, making it a promising compound against this difficult-to-treat infection.

Watch the video to learn another unlikely source for new drugs!
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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