Australian researchers found that the chemical compounds detected in the milk of a marsupial the Tasmanian devils that can kill some of the most deadly bacterial infections. This discovery may help in the creation of a new class of “weapons” in the fight against bacteria resistant to antibiotics.
Marsupial mammals, in contrast to placentals, have shortly after birth to look for “refuge” in the bags their mothers. This welcoming environment provides them with protection and is a constant source of food, however, this is not the most sterile place in the world. Moreover, the babies of marsupials are born after a few weeks of pregnancy and have an underdeveloped immune system. In order to protect their offspring from bacteria, mothers are able to produce milk with antimicrobial peptides.
Based on these considerations, a group of scientists from the University of Sydney decided to analyze the milk of a marsupial the Tasmanian devils. They found it anti-microbial peptides – cathelicidins. These substances protect animals against common pathogenic bacteria that infect including man, Staphylococcus aureus and faecal enterococci.
Cathelicidins are even those microorganisms which are resistant to “regular” antibiotics. The authors of the work published in the journal Scientific Reports, consider that cathelicidins protect their young Tasmanian devils from disease-causing microorganisms.
“We were able in the laboratory to establish that the peptides in the milk “devils” are able to kill bacteria resistant to many antibiotics, says study author Emma PIR. – It’s really great.”
Scientists hope that this discovery will help in the future to create a new class of powerful antibiotics.