Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Blood of alligators and crocodiles has proteins with high antibacterial and antifungal activity

In the blood of alligators and crocodiles proteins were discovered with high antibacterial and antifungal activity.

Unlike men, alligators can combat fungi, viruses and bacteria without the body being previously subjected to these micro-organisms. The researchers have demonstrated the McNeese State University and Louisiana state university who collected the blood from alligators and analyzed the white blood cells, which are the cells appointed to immune defense.

According to the results of the study, presented to Congress by the American Chemical Society in New Orleans Corsican (USA), from these cells can be extracted a protein that has a high antibacterial activity. It is possible that this feature is due to an adjustment mechanism that leads to faster healing of injuries, since the alligators are frequently injured during the struggle for the conquest of territory.

The protein extract was tested on different types of bacteria, including microbes particularly resistant to antibiotics already in use as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, very widespread. The results are promising, given the good activities on six of the eight strains of Candida albicans which has been tested. The next step will be to identify the chemical structures of proteins and identify which are the most effective. According to the researchers, the white blood cells of alligators could contain at least four promising substances and, once understood, we can begin to think of the new antibiotic drugs.  - coolstuff


Nimravid said...

Actually we can fight bacteria and viruses without using our adaptive immune system. Humans (men and women ;-) ) have an innate immune system that has been tuned by evolution to recognize various molecules that usually go along with invading bacteria and viruses. When we pick these molecules up the innate immune system kicks off a cascade that can help quash viral replication, screw up bacterial metabolism, and draw in white blood cells to do the cleanup. When you get a cold or the flu it's your innate immune system that helps you get better. Your adaptive immune system doesn't really get antibody production cranked up until a couple weeks after exposure. These will help keep you from getting sick again, but it was not antibodies that helped you get better in the first place.

Crocodilians have the innate immune system too, but it sounds like they also have natural antibiotics that we don't have. We do have some antibiotic peptides, such as lysozyme secreted in our tears, but the crocodilians look like they have something new and different.

Xeno said...

Thanks, good comment. Discoveries like this are an excellent argument for maintaining our biodiversity. Some people don't understand why it is important to protect endangered species. There are many reasons but, for example, wouldn't it be funny if a protein in spotted owls turned out to be the only cure for some deadly disease that would otherwise wipe humans off the face of the planet?