Friday November 16, 2018

Platypus milk may help combat superbugs

The health body pleads for urgent action to avoid a "post-antibiotic era", where common infections and minor injuries which have been treatable for decades can once again kill

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Platypus milk can combat superbugs and save lives. IANS
Platypus milk can combat superbugs and save lives. IANS
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  • Platypus milk can save lives
  • It can combat superbugs
  • It is due to a protein present in their milk

A protein present in the milk of the platypus can potentially save thousands of lives by effectively killing superbugs that has become increasingly resistant to antibiotic drugs, researchers say.

Due to its unique features — duck-billed, egg-laying, beaver-tailed and venomous, the platypus has long exerted a powerful appeal to scientists, making it an important subject in the study of evolutionary biology.

Formula made from Cow's milk may reduce the risk of diabetes
Milk of Platypus can save millions of lives. IANS

“Platypus are such weird animals that it would make sense for them to have weird biochemistry,” said lead author Janet Newman, researcher at Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Oganisation.

“The platypus belongs to the monotreme family, a small group of mammals that lay eggs and produce milk to feed their young. By taking a closer look at their milk, we’ve characterised a new protein that has unique antibacterial properties with the potential to save lives,” Newman added.

As platypus do not have teats, they express milk onto their belly for the young to suckle, exposing the mother’s highly nutritious milk to the environment and leaving babies susceptible to the perils of bacteria. Researchers believed that this might be the reason why the platypus milk contained a protein with rather unusual and protective anti-bacterial characteristics.

Also Read: Formula made from Cow’s milk may reduce the risk of diabetes

The discovery, detailed in the journal Structural Biology Communications, was made by replicating a special protein contained in platypus milk in a laboratory setting. The results showed a unique 3-D fold with ringlet-like formation, dubbed as the “Shirley Temple”.

“Although we’ve identified this highly unusual protein as only existing in monotremes, this discovery increases our knowledge of protein structures in general, and will go on to inform other drug discovery work done at the Centre,” Newman said. Antibiotic resistance has posed global threat that requires action across all government sectors and society, according to the World Health Organisation.

The health body pleads for urgent action to avoid a “post-antibiotic era”, where common infections and minor injuries which have been treatable for decades can once again kill. IANS

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High Immunity Protein at Birth Cuts Childhood Malaria Risk

For the study, published in the Journal of Scientific Reports, the team examined 349 Mozambican pregnant women and their newborn babies up to two years of age

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A teenager caressing the newborn. Pixabay

Newborn babies who are born with a high level of an immune-related protein in their blood cells are less likely to develop malaria throughout their early childhood, a study revealed.

The research showed that babies born with a high level of a certain type of immunity proteins cytokine, known as IL-12, in their umbilical cord blood had a higher resistance to the development of malaria in the first two years of their life.

“The finding suggests that there is a strong link between levels of this IL-12 protein obtained from the umbilical cord blood and the development of malaria in early childhood,” said lead author Yong Song, from Curtin University in Australia.

With more than 90 per cent of malaria infections occurring in sub-Saharan Africa, childhood malaria remains one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality, resulting in 500,000 deaths annually.

Malaria is caused by parasites that are spread to people through mosquito bites.
Malaria is caused by parasites that are spread to people through mosquito bites. (VOA)

The team also investigated how newborn babies develop high levels of IL-12 in the cord blood.

“We found that the inbred quantity of these small proteins was not only influenced by children and mother’s genetic variation, but was also dependent on the immune system conditions of the mother during pregnancy,” Song noted.

Also Read: FDA Approves Drug to Stop Some Malaria Relapses

For the study, published in the Journal of Scientific Reports, the team examined 349 Mozambican pregnant women and their newborn babies up to two years of age.

“The study could have significant implications for future vaccine design techniques that could assist with the prevention of malaria in high-risk countries such as Mozambique,” said co-author Brad Zhang, Associate Professor from Curtin’s School of Public Health. (IANS)