Mother's milk from Tasmanian devils could help the global fight against increasingly deadly "superbugs" that resist antibiotics, Australian researchers said Tuesday. Scientists at the University of Sydney found that peptides in the marsupial's milk killed resistant bacteria, including methicillin-resistant golden staph bacteria and enterococcus, which is resistant to the powerful antibiotic vancomycin. The researchers turned to marsupials like the devil because of their biology. The scientists artificially created the antimicrobial peptides, called cathelicidins, after extracting the sequence from the devil's genome and found they "killed the resistant bacteria … and other bacteria."
Marsupials have more peptides than other mammals. In the devil we found six, whereas humans have only one of this type of peptide.University of Sydney PhD candidate Emma Peel, who worked on the research published in the journal Scientific Reports
World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan warned last month that some scientists were describing the impact of superbugs as a "slow-motion tsunami" and the situation as "bad and getting worse."
Most of the other previous antibiotics have come from plants, molds and other work that's been around for close to a 100 years, so it's time to start looking elsewhere.Carolyn Hogg, research manager of the university's Australasian Wildlife Genomics Group