Friday, April 11, 2008

Bacteria? See ya later alligator!

The 235th meeting of the American Chemical Society sounded interesting. One of the presentations was a group of biochemists from Louisiana reporting their studies on the antimicrobial activity of alligator blood. I got this from a Science Daily report: Alligator Blood May Put The Bite On Antibiotic-resistant Infections,* and a National Geographic article: Alligator Blood May Lead to Powerful New Antibiotics.

Apparently alligators and crocodiles have an unusually strong immune system that can fight off fungi, viruses, and bacteria including methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus. This is likely an evolutionary adaption to frequent injuries due to such things as territorial disputes, and (often) living in swampy, microorganism infested environments.

These scientists separated out the white blood cells and extracted the active proteins from the alligator white blood cells. They found that of the 23 strains of bacteria they tested, alligator serum killed...23 of them. The same tests using human blood serum killed 8.

They are hoping that alligator blood products might be available for human use as pills or topical ointments within seven to ten years.

Is anyone else envisioning a future 50 or so years hence, where crocodilians are dying from infections they never used to get, due to human misuse induced alligator blood resistant bacteria?

1 comment:

Stephen Bain said...

That would certainly be sad for the cute little alligators. Of course, by then we will have moved onto camel antibodies to treat our infections.