The festive thanksgiving meal, turkey, is much awaited for because it is good in taste. But it can also save your life, says a new study.
The research by BYU reports that turkey contains the biological machinery needed to produce a potentially life-saving antibiotic, and microbiologist Joel Griffitts, said that that they have been studying the good bacteria that has kept the turkey farms healthy for years and has the potential to keep humans healthy as well.
The bacteria, Strain 115 as scientists know it, produces the MP1 antibiotic-a known killer that could target staph infections, strep throat, severe gastrointestinal diseases and roughly half of all infectious bacteria. This antibiotic, however, is not in widespread use because of its complex structure.
The scientists found the engine inside of Strain 115, a compact DNA molecule also known as a plasmid, produces both the killer antibiotic and a self-protecting agent. It makes a "spare" ribosome part which, when inserted into a normal ribosome, renders it immune to the antibiotic.
But what makes this turkey story so great is that, just like Thanksgiving, it has a great beginning. It started with a turkey farm more than three decades ago, when now-retired BYU professor Marcus Jensen discovered Strain 115.
Through his research on the strain, Jensen went on to develop three vaccines vital to the prevention of diseases in turkeys. And while his work with turkeys became widely known and led to awards, his research moved in new directions and the strain was set aside in 1983.
Some 30 years later, a student found the strain in a freezer. After some initial research efforts by undergraduates, the project was taken into high gear.
The findings are published in the Journal of Bacteriology.