The Telegraph reports a substance found in the blood of endangered Giant Pandas could lead to new antibiotic weapons in the fight against human extinction.
Researchers in China discovered Giant Panda blood contains a powerful antibiotic compound that can destroy in one hour the same bacteria that takes other well-known antibiotics six hours to kill.
Luckily there is no need to harvest the antibiotic from the protected creatures. The compound — a peptide called cathelicidin-AM believed to be produced by immune cells — has been artificially synthesized in a lab, scientists say.
They believe the discovery can be "used to create potent new treatments against drug resistant superbugs and other diseases...or as an antiseptic for cleaning surfaces and utensils," reports The Telegraph.
Lead researcher Dr. Xiuwen Yan says the peptide: "showed potential antimicrobial activities against a wide spectrum of microorganisms including bacteria and fungi, both standard and drug-resistant strains."
Dr. Yan believes increasing drug-resistance against microorganisms poses an urgent need to develop new types of germ-fighting agents. Drug resistance occurs less, Yan says, with "gene-encoded antimicrobial peptides" than with conventional antibiotics.
The recent discovery could strengthen efforts to protect the animal. The breeding-challenged, bamboo-eating, killer whale-looking symbols of wildlife conservation have all but disappeared from Earth, with only 1,600 Giant Panda bears estimated to still exist in nature.
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