A new study has shown that the blood of a Komodo Dragon could help to produce new antibiotics to help tackle the problem of more and more infections becoming resistant to current antibiotics.
An antibiotic is a drug that fights infections caused by bacteria, and antibiotic resistance is the ability of bacteria to resist the affects of an antibiotic. This is becoming a big threat to public health as every year, more and more people are dying due to infections that previously could have been treated by antibiotics, thus making the need for new antimicrobial medications is heavily increase. British studies have claimed that 10 million people a year globally die due to infections resistant to antibiotics, thus showing just how important it is for new antibiotics to be produced quickly.
However, this isn’t a problem that can be solved easily – no new antibiotics have been developed in the past 30 years, showing just how difficult it is to produce new antibiotics. The World Health Organization (WHO) have even warned that we are on the edge of entering a ‘post-antibiotic era’ so now scientists and researchers all over the world are making antibiotics a top priority.
Luckily, Monique Van Hoek and his colleagues of the School of Systems Biology at George Mason University in Manassas, VA have found that Komodo Dragons could provide some hope in producing new antibiotics. Apparently, a peptide found in its blood known as VK25 allows the Komodo Dragon – the largest living species of lizard in the world – to rarely get ill even after eating decaying flesh and saliva with harmful bacteria. The peptide has been found to have mild antimicrobial properties, so researchers have shuffled 2 of the amino acids present in the VK 25 to make it more effective. This new synthesised peptide has been named ‘DRGN-1’.
Van Hoek said:
“The synthesized peptide DRGN-1 is not a Komodo dragon’s natural peptide; it’s been altered to be stronger in terms of both potency and stability,”
“Synthetic germ-fighter peptides are a new approach to potentially defeat bacteria that have grown resistant to conventional antibiotics. The antimicrobial peptides we’re tapping into represent millions of years of evolution in protecting immune systems from dangerous infections.”
The peptide managed to kill antibiotic resistant bacteria (Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus) in mice, so the researchers are now hoping to try and get the same results in other animals and eventually, humans.
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