Pandas have long been the face of conservation efforts by environmental activists, but a recent finding may boost even further the need for pandas to evade extinction. Researchers have discovered a powerful antibody in panda blood that could serve as the next frontier in the fight against increasingly prevalent superbugs.
The compound is called cathelicin-AM. Discovered when researchers analyzed the creatures' DNA, it has been found to kill fungus and bacteria. It is believed that the antibiotic is released to protect the animal from infections in the wild and, in studies, it has been found to kill both standard and drug-resistant strains of microbes and fungi. The compound also worked extremely quickly, killing off strains of bacteria in just an hour, while conventional antibiotics needed six.
"Gene-encoded antimicrobial peptides play an important role in innate immunity against noxious microorganisms," lead researcher Dr. Xiuwen Yen, from the Life Sciences College of Nanjing Agricultural University, in China said to the Telegraph. "They cause much less drug resistance of microbes than conventional antibiotics."