|Tujah, a komodo dragon whose blood contains a substance which is found to have germ-killing abilities.|
A team of scientists from George Mason University have recently discovered an antibiotic in the blood of the komodo dragon. The discovery came when the scientists separated a substance in the dragon's blood that appeared to have powerful germ-killing capabilities. Influenced by the discovery, the scientists created a similar chemical in the lab and named it DRGN-1. The tests on mice with skin wounds infected with two types of bacteria indicated that DRGN-1 had three characteristics: it punched holes in the outer membrane of both gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria, dissolved biofilms that fasten bacteria together, and increased skin healing. The discoverers' study was published last week in the journal Biofilms and Microbiomes. Although their work was paid by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the researchers are now looking for drug-industry backing. The study's lead authors, Dr. Monique L. Van Hoek and Dr. Barney M. Bishop, are known to study monitor lizards, including komodo dragons, and crocodilians. Since komodo dragons are endangered, the researchers had to find one in captivity under care of staff members brave enough to obtain blood samples without anesthesia. Their search led them to St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park in Florida, where keepers distracted a 100-pound male dragon named Tujah while four tablespoons of blood was collected from his tail. According to Dr. Bishop, no reptiles were harmed during the process and no dragon farms would be created for collecting dragon blood. Dr. Van Hoek and her colleagues are analyzing more than forty other substances separated from Tujah's blood. In addition, komodo dragons in the wild might have more defenses against infection but the researchers are not likely to find out.
|Acinetobacter baumannii, a group of drug-resistant bacteria found in soil and water that is of tremendous threat to the human health.|
This discovery is extremely crucial in medical science since more and more bacteria develop resistance to current drugs. In February, the World Health Organization (WHO) listed the most dangerous "superbugs", demanding new tools against them. These life-threatening bacteria are able to withstand current antibiotic drugs, making them a serious threat to human health. Dr. Bishop and Dr. Van Hoek have studied monitor lizards and crocodilians because they are able to survive severe wounds, including loss of limbs, in squalid environments without getting infected. The blood of the komodo dragon has recently been found to contain an antibiotic that can help people affected by Acinetobacter baumannii and other bacteria. As of now, komodo dragon blood is currently being tested for various substances that effectively fight the bacteria. This goes to show that while komodo dragons may be dangerous predators and have been linked to attacks on people, they may also help save lives of people under threat of drug-resistant bacteria. It is similar in the case of other venomous/poisonous animals whose venom/poison is scientifically proven to contain components that function as pain-killers against various life-threatening diseases, including cancer.
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