Cockroach Brains May Hold New Antibiotics?
2010 09 16

By Christine Dell’Amore | NationalGeographic.com



Cockroaches may make your skin crawl, but the insects—or, to be exact, their brains—could one day save your life.

That’s because the central nervous systems of American cockroaches produce natural antibiotics that can kill off bacteria often deadly to humans, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and toxic strains of Escherichia coli, scientists said this week.

Two species of locust tested so far also have the same bacteria-killing molecules in their tiny heads.

The findings suggest that the insect world—which makes up 80 percent of all animals on Earth—may be teeming with new antibiotics, said study co-author Simon Lee of the University of Nottingham in the U.K.

Such a discovery is crucial, because scientists are scrambling to combat strains of several infectious diseases, including MRSA and E. coli, that are resistant to traditional antibiotics, Lee said.

"It’s a promising new lead. We are looking in an unusual place, and to my knowledge no one else is looking there," Lee said.

"That’s what we need in terms of [finding new] antibiotics, because all the usual places"—such as soil microbes, fungi, and purely synthetic molecules—"have been exhausted."

Insect Brains Have "Clever Defense" Against Bacteria

Lee and colleagues dissected the tissues and brains of cockroaches—which "smell as bad as they look," Lee said—and locusts in the lab.

The team tested nine separate types of antibacterial molecules found in the insects’ brains and discovered that each molecule is specialized to kill a different type of bacteria.

This "very clever defense mechanism" allows the bugs to survive in the most dirty of domains, Lee said.

The scientists found the bugs had antibiotics only in their brain tissue, the most essential part of the body, he added.

A bug might live with an infected leg, for instance, but a brain infection would almost certainly be fatal.

Insect-brain drugs for humans are still years away, Lee said, but there’s one hopeful glimmer: When the team added the insect antibiotics to human cells in the lab, there were no toxic effects.

Preliminary findings on antibiotics in bug brains were presented at the Society for General Microbiology meeting held this week at the University of Nottingham.

Article from: news.nationalgeographic.com







Related Articles
Are you ready for a world without antibiotics?
Doctors reconsider old antibiotics despite hazards
The Stunning Pictures of Sleeping Insects Covered in Water Droplets
Insects (the original white meat)
Insects Use Plants Like A Telephone


Latest News from our Front Page

Recent Israeli Synagogue Attack, a Possible False Flag?
2014 11 21
Dear Friends - I woke up yesterday morning to see a newspaper lying on the kitchen table with the front page proclaiming that five people were slain in an Israeli synagogue after a so-called "Palestinian attack." Some members of the media said that four people were killed, others said five, so it seems like that there was some confusion (or ...
The Michael Brown Shooting, Race Baiting for Political Power and Militarization of the Police
2014 11 21
From Youtube: The evidence clearly shows that Officer Darren Wilson was justified in shooting Michael Brown, so why is this case being hyped by the mainstream media and the leftist political establishment?
Detekt: A New Malware Detection Tool That Can Expose Illegitimate State Surveillance
2014 11 21
Recent years have seen a boom in the adoption of surveillance technology by governments around the world, including spyware that provides its purchasers the unchecked ability to target remote Internet users’ computers, to read their personal emails, listen in on private audio calls, record keystrokes and passwords, and remotely activate their computer’s camera or microphone. EFF, together with Amnesty International, ...
New UK spy chief says tech giants aid terrorism, privacy not ‘absolute right’
2014 11 21
Robert Hannigan, the new head of GCHQ The new head of Britain’s GCHQ, the UK equivalent of the NSA in the U.S., said he believes privacy is not an absolute right and that tech giants must open themselves up to intelligence agencies. “GCHQ is happy to be part of a mature debate on privacy in the digital age,” Hannigan said. “But privacy ...
LOL: Atheist Feminist Pornographer Used as Moral Authority in T-shirt Row
2014 11 21
Dr. Matt Taylor was thrust into the headlines this last week, largely for his lead role in successfully landing a spacecraft on a comet 300 million miles from earth that travels at a speed of 85,000 mph. In short, Taylor and his colleagues pulled off one of the most amazing achievements in contemporary science and space exploration, and in a ...
More News »