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Fearsome Giant Lizards Komodo Dragons found in Indonesia may be a source of a potent Antibiotic

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Hudo, a seven year old Komodo dragon, peers out from it's new home, Thursday, June 3, 2010, at the Cincinnati Zoo in Cincinnati. Hudo is seven feet long and weighs 100 pounds. The zoo is opening a new exhibit June 5 called Dragons that features the Komodo dragon and other lizards. (AP Photo/Al Behrman) VOA
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Indonesia, April 21, 2017: Komodo dragons, fearsome giant lizards found in Indonesia, may be a source of a potent antibiotic. If so, researchers say the agent could be an answer to the growing, global health problem of antibiotic resistance.

Huge, toothy and aggressive, Komodo dragons are surrounded by filth in their daily lives. As a result, Barney Bishop, a biochemist at George Mason University near Washington, said Komodo dragons have developed what he called a “robust” immune system.

Bishop studies molecules produced by the immune system as a front-line defense against infection. That, he said, is the reason for the interest in Komodos.

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“They are known to eat carrion; they live in an unsanitary environment; they have been recorded to have up to 57 bacterial strains in their mouths,” some of which can cause disease, he said. “Yet the reptiles themselves are not harmed by these bacteria, whether it’s in their mouths or wounds inflicted by other lizards.”

Bishop and his colleagues, working with blood from Komodos, isolated peptides, or small proteins, produced by the reptiles’ immune systems. The peptides, Bishop said, seem to have remarkable anti-bacterial properties.

Artificial version tested

Researchers made artificial versions of these peptides and tested the most promising one — DRGN-1, or DRAGON-1 — in wounded mice and human skin cell cultures. They found the protein molecules exhibited three outstanding properties: They destroyed the outer layer of bacteria, dissolved biofilms — a sticky colony that microbes form to shield against antibiotics — and speeded up healing.

The work with Komodo dragon peptides was published in the journal Biofilms and Microbiomes.

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Bishop said, “Their peptides may offer some promise and some new insights or provide new templates for development of new therapeutics to treat infection.”

Bishop said the three-pronged action of DRGN-1, if made into an antibiotic, would make it unlikely that disease-causing bacteria could become drug-resistant.

The Defense Threat Reduction Agency, an agency of the U.S. Defense Department, paid for the research. The military is interested in the work because it may relate to bioweapons.

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Samples of blood for the study were taken from a 45.3-kilogram (100-pound) male Komodo dragon named Tujah who lives at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park in Florida.

Bishop said only a one-time sample of blood was needed because the peptides were artificially reproduced, so no animal was harmed for the study. (VOA)

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Omega-3s from fish more effective in cancer prevention

The study involved feeding the different types of Omega-3s to mice with a highly aggressive form of human breast cancer called HER-2

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Based on the doses given in the study, humans should consume two to three servings of fish a week to have the same effect. Pixabay
Based on the doses given in the study, humans should consume two to three servings of fish a week to have the same effect. Pixabay
  • Omega-3 fatty acids from fish pack a stronger punch than flaxseed and other oils
  • This study is the first to compare the cancer-fighting potency of plant-versus marine-derived Omega-3s on breast tumor development
  • Based on the doses given in the study, humans should consume two to three servings of fish a week to have the same effect

When it comes to cancer prevention, Omega-3 fatty acids from fish pack a stronger punch than flaxseed and other oils, new research has found.

Marine-based omega-3s are eight times more effective at inhibiting tumor development and growth than plant-based sources, said the study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.

“This study is the first to compare the cancer-fighting potency of plant-versus marine-derived Omega-3s on breast tumor development,” said David Ma, Professor at the University of Guelph in Ontario.

ALSO READ: Here’s how eating fish could be IQ booster for your kid

There are three types of Omega-3 fatty acids: a-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Pixabay
There are three types of Omega-3 fatty acids: a-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Pixabay

“There is evidence that both Omega-3s from plants and marine sources are protective against cancer and we wanted to determine which form is more effective,” Ma said.

ALA is plant-based and found in such edible seeds as flaxseed and in oils, such as soy, canola and hemp oil.

EPA and DHA are found in marine life, such as fish, algae, and phytoplankton.

The study involved feeding the different types of Omega-3s to mice with a highly aggressive form of human breast cancer called HER-2.

Ma exposed the mice to either the plant-based or the marine-based Omega-3s.

“The mice were exposed to the different omega-3s even before tumors developed, which allowed us to compare how effective the fatty acids are at prevention,” said Ma.

Overall exposure to marine-based omega-3s reduced the size of the tumors by 60 to 70 percent and the number of tumors by 30 percent. Pixabay
Overall exposure to marine-based omega-3s reduced the size of the tumors by 60 to 70 percent and the number of tumors by 30 percent. Pixabay

ALSO READ: Benefits of eating fish in boosting IQ

However, higher doses of the plant-based fatty acid were required to deliver the same impact as the marine-based Omega-3s, the study said.

Omega-3s prevent and fight cancer by turning on genes associated with the immune system and blocking tumor growth pathways, said Ma.

Based on the doses given in the study, humans should consume two to three servings of fish a week to have the same effect, he said. (IANS)