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Gator Blood Destroys Deadly Superbugs
Scientific Computing ^ | 7/1/08 | Unknown

Posted on 07/01/2008 9:01:06 AM PDT by null and void

Alligator blood could provide a powerful new source of antibiotics for fighting deadly "superbugs" and other infections. Courtesy of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Despite their reputation for attacks on humans and pets, alligators are wiggling their way toward a new role as potential lifesavers in medicine. Biochemists in Louisiana are studying how proteins in gator blood may provide a source of powerful new antibiotics to help fight infections associated with diabetic ulcers, severe burns, and superbugs that are resistant to conventional medication.

In a study presented at the 235th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the researchers presented a range of other promising uses for the gator’s antibiotic proteins. Among them: combating Candida albicans yeast infections, which are a serious problem in AIDS patients and transplant recipients, who have weakened immune systems, the scientists say.

“We’re very excited about the potential of these alligator blood proteins as both antibacterial and antifungal agents,” says Mark Merchant, Ph.D., a biochemist at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, LA. “There’s a real possibility that you could be treated with an alligator blood product one day.”

Previous studies by Merchant have shown that alligators have an unusually strong immune system that is very different from that of humans. Unlike people, alligators can fight microorganisms such as fungi, viruses and bacteria without having prior exposure to them. Scientists believe that this is an evolutionary adaptation to promote quick wound healing, as alligators are often injured during fierce territorial battles.

In collaboration with Kermit Murray and Lancia Darville, both of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Merchant and colleagues collected blood samples from American alligators. They then isolated disease-fighting white blood cells (leucocytes) and extracted the active proteins from those cells.

In laboratory tests, tiny amounts of these protein extracts killed a wide range of bacteria, including MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), the deadly bacteria that are moving out of health care settings and into the community. These superbugs are increasingly resistant to multiple antibiotics and cause thousands of deaths each year.

The proteins also killed six out of eight different strains of Candida albicans, the researchers say. Their previous research also suggests that blood proteins may help fight HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The scientists are working to identify the exact chemical structures of the antimicrobial proteins and to determine which proteins are most effective at killing different microbes. The gator blood extract may contain at least four promising substances, they estimate.

With the chemical structures in hand, scientists can begin developing them into antibacterial or antifungal drugs, including pills and creams, for fighting infections. These drugs show particular promise as topical ointments, Merchant says. Gator-blood creams could conceivably be rubbed onto the foot ulcers of patients with diabetes to help prevent the type of uncontrolled infections that lead to amputations, he says. The creams could also be applied to the skin of burn patients to keep infections at bay until damaged skin can heal, the researcher adds.

Merchant suggests that the proteins might be called “alligacin.” If studies continue to show promise, the drugs could land on pharmacy shelves in another seven to 10 years, he estimates. Until then, don’t try to create your own home-remedies using alligator blood, as raw, unprocessed blood could make you sick or even kill you if injected, the researcher cautions.

Similar antimicrobial substances might also be found in related animals such as crocodiles, Merchant notes. In the future, he plans to study blood samples from alligators and crocodile species throughout the world to test their disease-fighting potential.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: biology; immunity; microbiology
Go 'Gators!
1 posted on 07/01/2008 9:01:07 AM PDT by null and void
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To: null and void

Hope they don’t stick them on like leeches!


2 posted on 07/01/2008 9:03:30 AM PDT by Dumpster Baby ( They told me that using the download page to download something was not something they anticipated)
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To: null and void

A gator tail a day keeps the doctor away.


3 posted on 07/01/2008 9:06:21 AM PDT by gov_bean_ counter ( Who is America's George Galloway?)
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To: Dumpster Baby

well... alligators and crocodiles have survived for millions of years... must be something to it...


4 posted on 07/01/2008 9:07:27 AM PDT by John123 (Obambi said that he has been in 57 states. I will now light myself on fire...)
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To: null and void

Always knew we were good for something.


5 posted on 07/01/2008 9:07:31 AM PDT by ExpatGator (Extending logic since 1961.)
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To: null and void

Bet this story upsets PETA.


6 posted on 07/01/2008 9:10:01 AM PDT by AxelPaulsenJr (300 Million People Going Bust Over High Gasoline Prices and Hussein Obama Wants to Hug Trees.)
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To: null and void

“alligacin.”
Another team of docs is workin’ on “crocadillafloxin.


7 posted on 07/01/2008 9:10:14 AM PDT by Dr. Bogus Pachysandra ("Don't touch that thing")
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To: null and void
"They won't hurt you if you just leave them alone."


8 posted on 07/01/2008 9:11:08 AM PDT by shineon
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To: AxelPaulsenJr

No bet.

EVERYTHING upsets PeTA.

(They’re a lot like muslims that way)...


9 posted on 07/01/2008 9:12:06 AM PDT by null and void (every Muslim, the minute he can differentiate, carries hate of Americans, Jews & Christians - OBL)
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To: null and void

Huh...and here I was last night watching the discovery channel and thinking what purpose do they serve.


10 posted on 07/01/2008 9:12:20 AM PDT by CindyDawg
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To: null and void

Make sense; they live in digusting swamps.

You would think their immune system would be pretty good.


11 posted on 07/01/2008 9:13:02 AM PDT by TheThirdRuffian (McCain is the best candidate of the Democrat party.)
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To: AxelPaulsenJr

Bet it tastes like chicken blood.


12 posted on 07/01/2008 9:13:12 AM PDT by doctor noe
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To: CindyDawg

Ummmm. They taste like chicken?


13 posted on 07/01/2008 9:13:29 AM PDT by null and void (every Muslim, the minute he can differentiate, carries hate of Americans, Jews & Christians - OBL)
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To: CindyDawg

“what purpose do they serve”

The Mob has been putting them to good use for years.


14 posted on 07/01/2008 9:14:38 AM PDT by TheThirdRuffian (McCain is the best candidate of the Democrat party.)
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To: doctor noe

That’s a really fowl comment.


15 posted on 07/01/2008 9:15:18 AM PDT by AxelPaulsenJr (300 Million People Going Bust Over High Gasoline Prices and Hussein Obama Wants to Hug Trees.)
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To: null and void
Did you listen to Neal Boortz this a.m.? He searched Yahoo for "Muslims outraged" and found more than 23,000 references. He did the same with other phrases (i.e., "Catholics outraged) and didn't get near as many references.

Carolyn

16 posted on 07/01/2008 9:17:18 AM PDT by CDHart ("It's too late to work within the system and too early to shoot the b@#$%^&s."--Claire Wolfe)
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To: null and void

Ummmm. They taste like chicken? ........................ That’s what they say, but the last time we had them, it was like chewing a truck tire.


17 posted on 07/01/2008 9:18:02 AM PDT by Bringbackthedraft (If everyone stays home and no one votes will Congress disappear?)
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To: TheThirdRuffian

That’s what I thought when I read this article, too. I have read, btw, that the crocodile is particularly lethal because any crocodile bite can kill you - not from the bite, but from the infection that sets in afterwards. They live in what are essentially pools of bacteria, and their teeth are laden with icky things that get into your bloodstream when they bite you.

Since they don’t die from living in this stuff, I guess it does stand to reason that the crocs (or gators) themselves have some built-in protection from it.


18 posted on 07/01/2008 9:18:30 AM PDT by livius
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To: John123
Study the freakin’ roaches. That's where the real survival power lies.
19 posted on 07/01/2008 9:19:14 AM PDT by isrul (Help make every day, "Disrespect a muzzie day.")
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To: null and void

Tastes like very tough chicken.


20 posted on 07/01/2008 9:19:38 AM PDT by TommyDale (I) (Never forget the Republicans who voted for illegal immigrant amnesty in 2007!)
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To: null and void

Fried alligator gar , handbags and boots. That’s about it. I can see how they would have to have a strong immunity system. I would hate to be the lab tech trying to draw blood though.


21 posted on 07/01/2008 9:19:41 AM PDT by CindyDawg
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To: ExpatGator
Taste like chicken.
22 posted on 07/01/2008 9:19:44 AM PDT by isrul (Help make every day, "Disrespect a muzzie day.")
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To: null and void

Aren’t they considered “cold blooded”? Would there be any significant side effects?


23 posted on 07/01/2008 9:20:40 AM PDT by TommyDale (I) (Never forget the Republicans who voted for illegal immigrant amnesty in 2007!)
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To: isrul

Not according to Terminex (?) :’)


24 posted on 07/01/2008 9:20:45 AM PDT by CindyDawg
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To: null and void

My blood is going to be very expensive.


25 posted on 07/01/2008 9:21:54 AM PDT by Gator113 (Drill here, drill now...... or die.)
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To: shineon

Hey gramps, how ya been?


26 posted on 07/01/2008 9:22:53 AM PDT by Gator113 (Drill here, drill now...... or die.)
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To: Gator113

Your tag line. This thread. Ummm....

*nevermind*


27 posted on 07/01/2008 9:23:47 AM PDT by null and void (every Muslim, the minute he can differentiate, carries hate of Americans, Jews & Christians - OBL)
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To: null and void

I would think most anything living in a tropical/sub-tropical swamp environment would have a robust immune system. I’d also think scavengers have a pretty robust system


28 posted on 07/01/2008 9:29:01 AM PDT by fso301
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To: CindyDawg
Heaven and earth and terminex shall pass away. But the roaches shall not pass away. so let it be written. So let it be done. (a little Yul Brenner lingo) :)
29 posted on 07/01/2008 9:32:52 AM PDT by isrul (Help make every day, "Disrespect a muzzie day.")
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To: livius
I have read, btw, that the crocodile is particularly lethal because any crocodile bite can kill you - not from the bite, but from the infection that sets in afterwards. They live in what are essentially pools of bacteria, and their teeth are laden with icky things that get into your bloodstream when they bite you.

Since they don’t die from living in this stuff, I guess it does stand to reason that the crocs (or gators) themselves have some built-in protection from it.

Komodo dragons must have similar properties as well. Their mouth and bites are considered the dirtiest wounds you can get.

30 posted on 07/01/2008 9:33:54 AM PDT by Centurion2000 (Beware the fury of the man that cannot find hope or justice.)
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To: null and void

Aren’t gators a protected species? Won’t the environmentalists and animal wackos go berserk when we bleed gators?


31 posted on 07/01/2008 9:37:10 AM PDT by 353FMG (What marxism and fascism could not destroy, liberalism did.)
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To: null and void

Gator blood? Great, now I’m starving.


32 posted on 07/01/2008 9:41:15 AM PDT by Natchez Hawk (Penguin evolution is a fib!)
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To: null and void

Take two gators and call me in the morning.


33 posted on 07/01/2008 9:44:54 AM PDT by bmwcyle (If God wanted us to be Socialist, Karl Marx would have been born in America.)
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To: null and void

Has anybody done any research on biochemical compounds in newt blood? The old girls at the cauldron could have had it right all along.


34 posted on 07/01/2008 9:57:55 AM PDT by InABunkerUnderSF ("Gun Control" is not about the guns. "Illegal Immigration" is not about the immigration)
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To: null and void

Tebow can do anything!

35 posted on 07/01/2008 10:03:04 AM PDT by yuleeyahoo
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To: InABunkerUnderSF
A newt?

Oy got better...

36 posted on 07/01/2008 10:03:27 AM PDT by null and void (every Muslim, the minute he can differentiate, carries hate of Americans, Jews & Christians - OBL)
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To: Centurion2000
Since they don’t die from living in this stuff, I guess it does stand to reason that the crocs (or gators) themselves have some built-in protection from it.

Or the pathogens just don't target crocs/gators. Many (most?) pathogens are pretty specific in what host organisms they will cause problems in. And most bacteria and virii don't cause disease anyway, so simply having a lot of them around is not a cause for alarm in itself. Heck, I read the other day in Answers magazine that there are 10 bacteria in your body for every one of "your" body cells! Biologically speaking, you're a big mass of bacteria!

37 posted on 07/01/2008 10:11:13 AM PDT by Liberty1970
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To: null and void

Here is a picture taken from a microscopic sample, showing the Gator blood at work.

38 posted on 07/01/2008 10:18:35 AM PDT by dfwgator ( This tag blank until football season.)
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To: 2ndreconmarine; Fitzcarraldo; Covenantor; Mother Abigail; EBH; Dog Gone; ...

Ping...


39 posted on 07/01/2008 10:33:23 AM PDT by Smokin' Joe (How often God must weep at humans' folly.)
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To: null and void

If it kills MRSA, I’ll have my gator steak rare.


40 posted on 07/01/2008 10:35:41 AM PDT by usmcobra (I sing Karaoke the way it was meant to be sung, drunk, badly and in Japanese)
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To: Smokin' Joe

Thanks, bfl


41 posted on 07/01/2008 10:37:19 AM PDT by neverdem (I'm praying for a Divine Intervention.)
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To: null and void

I’ve been posting about “crocodillin” and “komododillin” for a long time now. The peptides have been researched so much they think that there is a language that can be used to create new anti-biotics.


42 posted on 07/01/2008 11:29:34 AM PDT by techcor
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To: null and void; austinmark; FreedomCalls; IslandJeff; JRochelle; MarMema; Txsleuth; Newtoidaho; ...
Thanks for posting.

FReepmail me if you want on or off the diabetes ping list.

43 posted on 07/01/2008 8:52:04 PM PDT by neverdem (I'm praying for a Divine Intervention.)
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To: Coleus
Ping!
44 posted on 07/01/2008 11:03:13 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/_________________________Profile updated Friday, May 30, 2008)
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To: null and void; dfwgator

ping!..................


45 posted on 07/02/2008 5:12:58 AM PDT by Red Badger (If we drill deep enough, we can reach the Saudi oil fields from THIS side..........)
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