(PANDAS) Although there are only 1,600 giant pandas currently left in the wild, scientists in China have nonetheless undergone efforts to manufacture giant panda blood and retrieve a potent antibiotic called cathelicidin-AM. Unlike other well-known antibiotics which take more then six hours to kill bacteria, cathelicidin-AM can do the job in less than an hour. Although the team of scientists have figured out a way to synthesize the compound artificially in a lab, the fact that this highly endangered species is being poked and prodded at for scientific means is not acceptable under any circumstance. Read below for more information on this issue and give us your opinion on exploiting animal resources for human benefits in the comments below. — Global Animal
Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News
Giant panda blood may hold the secret to curing superbug illnesses in humans as well as other diseases, according to new research.
The teddy bear-like animals would hardly seem to be associated with industrial strength cleanser and potent antibiotics, but their link with these possible cure alls now appears to have been forged.
The primary component in giant panda blood is called cathelicidin-AM. It was found after analyzing the panda’s DNA. This compound kills bacteria in less than an hour. Other well known antibiotics take more than six hours to tackle the same job.
Xiuwen Yan, who led the research at the Life Sciences College of Nanjing Agricultural University in China, told the London Telegraph: “It showed potential antimicrobial activities against wide spectrum of microorganisms including bacteria and fungi, both standard and drug-resistant strains.”
Yan continued, “Under the pressure of increasing microorganisms with drug resistance against conventional antibiotics, there is urgent need to develop new type of antimicrobial agents. Gene-encoded antimicrobial peptides play an important role in innate immunity against noxious microorganisms. They cause much less drug resistance of microbes than conventional antibiotics.”
Giant pandas are highly endangered, with only about 1,600 left in the wild. The new discovery shows how important it is to save all species — plants, insects, birds and animals — as they could, like the giant panda, hold keys to solving many pressing human health issues.
Thankfully, the scientists don’t have to raise a bunch of pandas in order to keep up the supply of cathelicidin-AM. Yan and colleagues have figured out a way to synthesize the compound artificially in a lab. They did this by decoding giant panda genes to produce a small molecule known as a peptide.
Yan explained, “Antimicrobial peptides are important components in innate immunity — they can provide an effective and fast acting defence against harmful microorganisms. More than 1000 antimicrobial peptides have been found from animals, plants, and microorganisms. Analysis revealed that the panda cathelicidin had the nearest evolution relationship with dog cathelicidin.”
As for why giant pandas have such a powerful antibacterial agent in their blood, the researchers suspect that it boosts the big furry animal’s immune system. This probably protects them from infections when they are living in the wild.
The same scientific team has found other powerful antimicrobial compounds in the mucus produced by snails and in some amphibians.