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

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

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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New test may prevent antibiotic resistances from spreading

Thereby, physicians would hold a powerful tool from which they could benefit in personalised therapy -- this means the administration of a fitting drug, the researchers said

Overuse of Antibiotic pills has resulted in development of drug resilient bacterias,, Pixabay
  • Scientists have found a new kind of test
  • This may prevent antibiotic resistance
  • The new method also provides faster diagnosis

Scientists have developed a new “rapid test” that produces a cheaper and faster diagnosis of infectious diseases in just three hours thus preventing antibiotic resistance from spreading.

Owing to small number of pathogens in a patient’s sample, standard practices require up to 72 hours to allow for a reliable result for the infectious diagnostics. The new method provides much faster diagnosis with the help of tiny electrodes that are fixed on the surface of a stamp-sized chip.

Drug overdose
This new test will stop antibiotic resistance. Pixabay

“Electric fields secure bacteria in a very small area,” said Ute Neugebauer from the Friedrich Schiller University Jena in Germany. The scientists then apply various antibiotics in different concentrations on the trapped bacteria and examine them with Raman spectroscopy.

“This means that we irradiate the pathogens with laser light and evaluate the scattered light spectrum”, Neugebauer said. “We combine light-based analytical methods with microfluidic sample processing. With our Lab-on-a-Chip system, thus a miniaturised lab, we are able to clearly identify bacterial strains and their resistances, in less than three hours,” he explained.

Also Read: Asthma Afflicted Children Are Prescribed Unwanted Antibiotics: Study

The combination of fast, light-based diagnostics and a high automation level reduces the time from sampling to result from to date 72 to three and a half hours.

The doctors can then derive whether the strain is resistant or sensible. At the same time they can also derive information on the needed concentration of the antibiotic to constrain bacterial growth.

The test will also lead to faster diagnosis. Wikimedia Commons
The test will also lead to faster diagnosis. Wikimedia Commons

“This is an important diagnostic parameter that influences the success of a treatment decidedly…such a fast procedure could revolutionise diagnostics of infectious diseases”, the researchers said, in a paper published in the journal Analytical Chemistry.

Another, more far-reaching, the aim is the further development of a cartridge-based rapid test system, which will enable general practitioners to identify resistances in a fast and easy way for the first time. Thereby, physicians would hold a powerful tool from which they could benefit in personalised therapy — this means the administration of a fitting drug, the researchers said. IANS