We might not think of dragons as medical miracle-workers, but scientists have announced a breakthrough in the search for new antibiotics. The source? Komodo dragons!
Biologists have long known that Komodo dragons have some really nasty bacteria in their mouths. If these big lizards can’t overpower their prey, they use a long-acting bacterial weapon as their fall-back. Any animal bitten by a Komodo dragon will develop a serious infection known as sepsis. It might take a few days, but the dragon follows its prey until the infection kills it. Then, it’s dinner time.
However deadly their mouth bacteria are, Komodo dragons themselves never seem to suffer from sepsis. Scientists decided to study them and figure out why. A team at George Mason Univerisity, led by Monique van Hoek, recently announced they had isolated a blood protein called DRGN-1. In laboratory tests, DRGN-1 was highly effective against some of the most notorious drug-resistant bacteria. Not even MRSA could stand against the dragon’s cure.
Although these are preliminary results, and much work remains to be done, van Hoek’s team hopes to develop a new antibiotic weapon for the ongoing battle against resistant diseases.
Our hero… the dragon?
Just a few of my books:
Aunt Ursula’s Atlas, Lucy D. Ford’s short story collection
Masters of Air & Fire, Lucy D. Ford’s middle-grade novel