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Home Industry News Alligator blood could target hospital superbugs

Alligator blood could target hospital superbugs

7th April 2008

Alligators could become the unlikely saviours in the battle to clamp down on antibiotic-resistant infections such as MRSA.

Biochemists in Louisiana say proteins in alligator blood may provide a source of powerful new antibiotics to help fight infections.

Previous research has shown that alligators have an unusually strong immune system that is different from that of humans.

Unlike humans, alligators can fight microorganisms such as fungi, viruses and bacteria without having prior exposure to them.

Scientists believe they have evolved this ability as they need to heal wounds quickly as they are often injured during territorial battles.

For the latest study, researchers at Louisiana State University and McNeese State University collected blood samples from American alligators.

They then isolated disease-fighting white blood cells and extracted the active proteins from those cells.

In laboratory tests small amounts of the protein killed a wide range of bacteria including MRSA and six out of eight different strains of Candida albicans.

“We’re very excited about the potential of these alligator blood proteins as both antibacterial and antifungal agents,” said study co-author Dr Mark Merchant at McNeese State University.

“There’s a real possibility that you could be treated with an alligator blood product one day.”

The researchers believe their research could result in antibacterial or antifungal drugs, including pills and creams, for fighting infections.

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