Study: Tasmanian devil milk helps resistant pathogens
Experts have been warning of increasing antibiotic resistance for some time. The effects could be catastrophic for all of humanity. Australian researchers have now found that Tasmanian devil milk could be a promising way to combat so-called multi-resistant super-germs.
The researchers at Sydney University discovered in their investigation that the milk of the aggressive marsupial could enable the treatment of multi-resistant super-germs in the future. The experts published the results of their study in the scientific reports.
Milk from Tasmanian devils works against resistant pathogens
There are more and more cases of antibiotic resistance in different strains of bacteria around the world. Many medical professionals are trying to develop new classes of antibiotics in the laboratory. But there are also scientists who focus on finding the solution to the problem in nature. Australian researchers have now said, after more than three years of research, that milk from Tasmanian devils could help treat resistant pathogens.
Milk from the Tasmanian Devils offers strong antimicrobial resistance
The Sydney University team worked on sequencing the Tasmanian Devil genome. The doctors made an important discovery. The mothers of the animals suckle their puppies for only 21 days. After that, the development of the young animal is continued in the mother's pocket, the experts explain. Given the short pregnancy and the knowledge that the pouch of these animals is certainly not a sterile environment, the researchers suspected that the milk of the Tasmanian devils must offer strong antimicrobial resistance.
Tasmanian devil milk acts as a natural antibiotic
The scientists finally found that the milk of the Tasmanian devil contains six types of peptides. These belong to a class called Kathelicidine and act as natural antibiotics. Humans only have one class of peptides, but most marsupials appear to have large amounts. For example, the bodies of opossums contain twelve types of peptides.
Peptides were found to be effective against all germs tested
The peptides found were artificially replicated and then tested against a variety of germs, the authors explain. Some of these germs pose a great danger to humans. The peptides have been found to be effective against all the germs tested. Staphylococcus aureus was also among the germs tested. This bacterium was found in about 30 percent of all people in the nose and mouth. It is usually harmless. However, the bacteria can be deadly if they get into the bloodstream, the experts explain.
So-called super-pathogens could kill around ten million people a year in 2050
Another type of bacteria tested was Enterococcus. Some strains of this bacterium are already resistant to vancomycin. This drug is considered one of the most potent antibiotics in the current arsenal of medical professionals. An 18-month review of antimicrobial resistance showed a year ago that resistant super-pathogens could kill around ten million people a year in 2050. This would cause the pathogens to cause more deaths than cancer, say the doctors.
Will the Tasmanian Devil save millions of lives one day?
It is really remarkable that this marsupial could one day save millions of lives, even though it is currently on the verge of extinction, the researchers report. In just ten years, about 80 percent of the Tasmanian devils have developed malignant facial cancer, with an almost 100 percent mortality rate, the scientists explain. Fortunately, some animals today have resistance to cancer and it appears that the Tasmanian devils will survive for this reason. (as)