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Scientists Crack Code of Kangaroo's DNA

Decoding could lead to new antibiotics, hope for wombats
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 22, 2011 11:30 AM CDT
Tammar Wallaby Kangaroo Genome Map Points to Better Antibiotics
A tammar wallaby.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – What makes the kangaroo hop? That’s just one of the questions answered by international researchers who’ve decoded the genome of a kangaroo species, the BBC reports. The genome research team—the first to be led by Australian scientists—sequenced the genome in 2008 but finally completed its analysis of it and published those findings last week. "It's been a huge project," says one scientist. "I'm from Australia and it was going on when I was an undergraduate there 10 years ago."

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The decoding gives scientists a clearer picture of mammalian evolution and could help cure diseases, both in humans and other mammals. Kangaroo milk has antibiotic properties, and researchers have copied it to synthesize a protein that kills bacteria already resistant to antibiotics, the Australian reports. The findings could lead to a vaccine to fend off a facial tumor that has ravaged Tasmanian devil populations—though such a medication could be a decade away. (Read more genome stories.)

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