Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cockroach brains could be rich store of new antibiotics.

From the Burrill Report:
To some people, cockroaches are the filthy, disgusting insects that scurry frantically when the lights are turned on in a seedy apartment kitchen or bathroom. But new research has found that they could be a health benefit rather than a health hazard.

Researchers have discovered powerful antibiotic properties in the brains of cockroaches and locusts that could lead to novel treatments for multi-drug resistant bacterial infections. They found that the tissues of their brain and nervous system were able to kill more than 90 percent of MRSA and pathogenic Escherichia coli, without harming human cells.

“Superbugs such as MRSA have developed resistance against the chemotherapeutic artillery that we throw at them,” says Naveed Khan, associate professor of molecular microbiology at the University of Nottingham and supervisor of the research. “They have shown the ability to cause untreatable infections, and have become a major threat in our fight against bacterial diseases. Thus, there is a continuous need to find additional sources of novel antimicrobials to confront this menace.”

Researchers have identified up to nine different molecules in the insect tissues that were toxic to bacteria. “We hope that these molecules could eventually be developed into treatments for E. coli and MRSA infections that are increasingly resistant to current drugs,” says Simon Lee, the researcher who presented their findings at a recent meeting of the Society for General Microbiology. “These new antibiotics could potentially provide alternatives to currently available drugs that may be effective but have serious and unwanted side effects.”

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