The discovery of antibiotics was one of the greatest advances in medical history. However, these life-saving drugs have been used so widely and for so long, that in more recent times some strains of bacteria have become resistant to their effects. Health care providers are faced with the growing dilemma of not overprescribing them in an effort to curb the resistance.
A recent discovery by biochemists however, may provide hope in the search for a solution to this problem.
In a new study, researchers from George Mason University, discovered compounds found in Komodo dragon blood, which may be a potential source for future antibiotics. They isolated a substance that appeared to have powerful germ-killing abilities, and recreated it in their lab. Not surprisingly, they named it DRGN-1.
In lab tests performed on mice, the substance was found to have three properties: it punched holes in the outer membranes of both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, it dissolves the biofilms that glue bacteria together, and it sped up skin healing.
The researchers–who study crocodilian and lizard species–came up with the idea for this study based upon their knowledge of how this lizard survives severe injuries and lost limbs, despite filthy conditions.
The blood that was studied was taken from a zoo specimen, and researchers suspect that wild dragons may possess even more infection fighting compounds. Tracking down wild dragons is not really much of an option, though. They are an endangered species, and are considered divine in their native Indonesia.
The researchers are now seeking the help of the drug industry in developing these antibiotics, as finding new drugs has become an urgent matter. The World Health Organization has called for new tools against these resistant bacteria. Hopefully, this research can result in those new tools.