Washington, Apr 7 : They might be known for their deadly attacks, but alligators can also be potential lifesavers, for a new study has found that alligator blood could provide a powerful new source of antibiotics for fighting deadly "superbugs " and other infections, resistant to medication.
Researchers have revealed that proteins in gator blood can be a powerful source of new antibiotics to help fight infections associated with diabetic ulcers, severe burns, and 'superbugs'.
It could successfully combat Candida albicans yeast infections, known to be a serious problem in AIDS patients and transplant recipients with weakened immune systems.
"We're very excited about the potential of these alligator blood proteins as both antibacterial and antifungal agents," said Mark Merchant, study co-author and 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," he added.
Merchant along with his associates Kermit Murray and Lancia Darville from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, gathered blood samples from American alligators.
After isolating the disease-fighting white blood cells (leucocytes) they extracted active proteins from those cells.
The lab tests revealed that tiny amounts of these protein extracts killed a wide range of bacteria, including MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), the deadly bacteria that are resistant to multiple antibiotics.
The proteins also killed six out of eight different strains of Candida albicans.
The scientists are now working to identify the exact chemical structures of the antimicrobial proteins that can help in developing antibacterial or antifungal drugs, including pills and creams, for fighting infections.
According to the researchers, the gator blood extract may contain at least four promising substances.
The study was presented at the 235th national meeting of the American Chemical Society.