Antibiotic resistance continues to be an urgent problem, but there is some good news with the discovery of Komodo dragon’s blood and its antibiotic properties.
Scientists at the George Mason University successfully isolated a substance in the Komodo Dragon’s blood with antibiotic properties. They used it on mice with wounds and found that the substance sped up the healing process. This is significant because antibiotic resistance is a very serious problem worldwide, which is why researchers are looking for alternatives to existing antibiotic options.
The work that scientists are doing has taken on an urgency as bacteria become more drug resistant to the existing drugs. In September 2016, the United Nations elevated antimicrobial resistance to crisis level seeking cooperation from countries to tackle the root causes of drug resistance. The current problem is a combination of the “natural evolution of bacteria” along with overprescription and use of antibiotics.
This discovery was made because scientists observed that dragons had the ability to survive their wounds without getting infected and seemed to have natural defenses against infections. Their mouths are packed with bacteria and this causes sepsis in the large animals they kill like deer.
In this preliminary study, scientists created a similar substance in the Komodo dragon’s blood in the lab–a peptide called DRGN-1, which increased the absorbency of bacterial membranes and help increase the migration of skin cells to the wound to promote healing.
To put these theories to test, scientists found a 100- pound Komodo dragon in a zoological park in Florida and were able to extract four tablespoons of blood from its tail. From this blood scientists were able to extract more than 40 different substances to study them further.
Chou, Vivian. “The Arms Race Between Germs and Medicine: How Superbugs Have Taken the Lead, and How Humans Can Take It Back.” Science in the News. Last modified December 31, 2014. Accessed August 5, 2017. http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/special-edition-on-infectious-disease/2014/the-arms-race-between-germs-and-medicine-how-superbugs-have-taken-the-lead-and-how-humans-can-take-it-back/.
McNeil, Donald G., Jr. “In a Dragon’s Blood, Scientists Discover a Potential Antibiotic.” New York Times (New York, NY), April 17, 2017. Accessed August 5, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/17/health/komodo-dragon-blood-antibiotics.html.