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Can panda blood be the answer to battling 'superbugs'?

By Leigh Goessl     Jan 3, 2013 in Science
Researchers are suggesting that a component found in panda blood may be more effective in treating infection than current antibiotics. According to the study, the component can fight bacteria in rapid time.
Last January researchers in China published a paper that suggested the blood from giant pandas showed potential in battling superbugs and other types of bacteria. According to Mother News Network, while the paper was published online over a year ago, its findings are just now getting widespread press.
Researchers from the Life Sciences College of Nanjing Agricultural University and other organizations in China conducted a study and found that giant panda blood contains an element that may be a powerful antibiotic that "showed potential antimicrobial activities against a wide spectrum of microorganisms."
The component found in the panda's blood is known as cathelicidin-AM.
According to the study, testing the giant panda's blood uncovered that it killed Staphylococcus sciuri in under an hour, whereas other well-known antibiotics took at least six hours. The researchers also discovered the peptide they artificially created in the lab was also effective against superbugs.
“It showed potential antimicrobial activities against wide spectrum of microorganisms including bacteria and fungi, both standard and drug-resistant strains," Xiuwen Yan, lead researcher in this study, said, according to The Telegraph.
"Under the pressure of increasing microorganisms with drug resistance against conventional antibiotics, there is urgent need to develop new type of antimicrobial agents. Gene-encoded antimicrobial peptides play an important role in innate immunity against noxious microorganisms. They cause much less drug resistance of microbes than conventional antibiotics.”
It is believed that in time perhaps cathelicidin-AM could be synthesized on a larger scale in labs and be used to create a powerful antibiotic or cleanser designed to kill even the most difficult to battle strains.
Giant pandas are an endangered animal. Experts have trouble breeding them in captivity and much effort and resources is placed in trying to breed giant pandas. According to The Telegraph, some have suggested efforts and resources might be better spent elsewhere. However, if the 'super antibiotic' found in panda blood proves to be useful in producing stronger treatments, this could strengthen the argument for maintaining efforts to save the giant panda.
Currently, there remains an estimated 1,600 giant pandas in the wild. Even in the wild, giant pandas do not have much success breeding..
The study was originally published on Jan. 12, 2012.
More about Panda, giant pandas, Giant Panda, Antibiotics, Antibiotic
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