Panda genome could lead to new super antibiotics

First Posted: Jan 02, 2013 04:24 PM EST

After decrypting the DNA of pandas, researchers from the Life Sciences College of Nanjing Agricultural University have discovered an antibody in panda blood that's extremely effective at killing fungus and bacteria.

The scientists tested the compound, called cathelicin-AM, on a number of bacteria and found that it even kills otherwise drug-resistant strains, known as superbugs. The findings could therefore lead to new "super"-antibiotics, which would work consistently against the increasingly prevalent superbugs. Lead researcher of the study Dr. Xiuwen Yen told media that the identified gene-encoded antimicrobial peptides cause much less drug resistance of microbes than conventional antibiotics.

The researchers could already synthesize the compound from the appropriate genes identified in the panda genome. It could be used both as antibiotic medicine, or also to sterilize tools and surfaces, especially in hospitals. The antibody works even six times faster than current antimicrobial compounds, killing fungus and bacteria within just one hour.

The research could be seen as a byproduct of the conservation efforts trying to prevent the extinction of the panda. Since the species is highly threatened and suffering from poor breeding performance, a lot of research is done on the species, including the decoding of the genome.

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