Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Bug Brains and Antibiotics

So, the paper for this isn't out yet, but there is a story over at ScienceDaily about how researchers have found several new antibiotics lurking in, of all places, the brains of cockroaches:
A big problem in hospitals (and in general) is the resistance of certain strains of bacteria to traditional antibiotics.  One of the biggest offenders is a strain called MRSA (pronounced Mur-suh), which stands for Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus.  As the name implies, MRSA is particularly resilient to treatment with narrow spectrum antibiotics like Methicillin (an antibiotic not too different from Penicillin).  In this report, researchers from the University of Nottingham have discovered that tissue from the cockroach nervous system is particularly good at killing MRSA, offering hope that potential antibiotic drugs may be developed from these tissues.
Of course, this isn't the first time that scientists have discovered antibacterial properties in the tissues of an unusual animal.  For example, several years ago, researchers reported on the remarkable ability of Komodo dragon saliva to keep the more than 50 strains of toxic bacteria that live in its mouth from killing it.  But the really good news in the case of the cockroach brain is that the researchers have already characterized several compounds that that have antibiotic properties.  Unlike in the case of the komodo dragon, from which no specific antibiotic compounds were ever isolated, these compounds may eventually be developed into usable antibiotic drugs that can help to fight the spread of bacterial infections in hospitals, particularly MRSA, which can kill thousands of patients each year.    

1 comment:

  1. Sounds good to me. Like the idea of Phage therapy, too.