For Infections, Try Gator-cillin

Scientists probe reptile's impressive immune system
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 7, 2008 3:28 PM CDT

(Newser) – Scientists are trying to harness the power of alligator blood to fight disease, bacterial infections, and even HIV, Cox News reports. Proteins in the reptiles' blood have antibiotic properties thanks to the animals' long evolution and frequent exposure to bacteria; their exceptionally effective immune systems can fight off invaders without previous exposure. "It's pretty exciting," says one gator researcher.

Says another researcher: "There's a real possibility that you could be treated with an alligator blood product one day." In the lab, proteins extracted from gator blood have killed bacteria, including antibiotic-resistant staph (MRSA), a fungus that causes yeast infections, and a sample of HIV. Researchers are working to sequence the alligators’ genetic material in hopes of synthesizing drugs for humans, which could be available in 10 years. (Read more MRSA stories.)

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