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Not Khaleesi's Dragons: Komodo Dragon Blood Could Help Fight Antibiotic Resistance

Feb 27, 2017 09:57 AM EST
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It's not magic or fiction; the blood of the dragons -- komodo dragons, that is -- might actually save us.

In a new paper published in the Journal of Proteome Research, scientists from the George Mason University revealed that they were able to detect antimicrobial protein fragments in the blood of the Komodo dragon. If successful, this could be the key in the creation of drugs capable of attacking a number of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that has been becoming more and more of a threat to the public.

According to a report from ACS, Komodo dragons are the world's largest lizard, living in the islands of Indonesia. Even with at least 57 species of bacteria found in their saliva, these creatures remain unharmed by these bacteria, which are discovered to even help them kill their prey.

"The ability of Komodo dragons to endure numerous strains of pathogenic bacteria in their saliva, yet show no signs of infection, and furthermore recover from wounds inflicted by other dragons reflect the inherent advantage of their innate immune defence and demands further investigation," Dr. Barney Bishop of the George Mason University said in a report from Mirror.

Read Also: Rare 'Baby Dragons' Hatched in Ancient Slovenia Cave are All Grown Up  

Seeking to understand the lizard's impressive immunity, the researchers used a technique called bioprespecting to isolate the cationic antimicrobial peptides (CAMPs) in their blood. There were 48 potential CAMPs, all of which were derived from a protein called histone that has antimicrobial properties.

Eight of the collected CAMPs were synthesized and tested on two different "superbugs": Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus. Seven were able to kill both of the strains, while the eighth was only effective against the P. aeruginosa.

While it could be a while before "dragon blood" antibiotics hit the market, the study is a significant step in the right direction.

"The role that CAMPs play in the innate immunity of the Komodo dragon is potentially very informative, and the newly identified Komodo dragon CAMPs may lend themselves to the development of new antimicrobial therapeutics," Bishop concluded.

Read Also: These New Spiky Ant Species Look Like Khaleesi's Dragons From 'Game of Thrones' 

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