About Careers MedBlog Contact us

Devilís Milk Could Be The New Weapon Against Superbugs

by Dr. Meenakshy Varier on October 19, 2016 at 5:14 PM
Font : A-A+

Devilís Milk Could Be The New Weapon Against Superbugs

Milk from marsupials known as Tasmanian devils could be the new weapon for the global fight against the increasingly deadly 'superbugs'.

Australian researchers suggest that it could kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria like golden staph and potentially combat the deadly facial tumor disease that has killed†80% of the wild devil population in the past 20 years. Devil facial tumor disease was first reported in 1996 and spread to cover 95% of Tasmania, prompting an international breeding program to save the animal.


World Health Organization director-general Margaret Chan warned last month some scientists were describing the impact of superbugs as a "slow-motion tsunami" and the situation was "bad and getting worse". According to British study, superbugs could kill up to 10 million people globally by 2050.

The researchers turned to marsupials like the devil, which carry their young in a pouch after birth to complete their development, because of their biology.

The underdeveloped young have an immature immune system when they are born, yet survive growth in their mother's bacteria-filled pouch. A 2015 study found there was a diverse range of bacteria living in the Tasmanian devil's pouch microbiome, an ecosystem of microorganisms including bacteria.

According to research led by Sydney University PhD student Emma Peel, milk produced by the marsupials contains antimicrobial peptides called cathelicidins which had been tested as being effective against a number of pathogens, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or golden staph and enterococcus which are resistant to powerful antibiotics like vancomycin.

Staph is a†potentially fatal bacterium carried by about†30% of people in their nose or on their skin, it is†mostly harmless. However†if it†gets into the†bloodstream†via†a wound, it can be deadly.

"We think this has led to an expansion of these peptides in marsupials," said Emma Peel, who worked on the research published in Scientific Reports, part of the Nature journal.

Marsupials have more peptides than other mammals. In the devil there are six, whereas humans have only one of this type of peptide.

"These peptides are killing superbugs, so there is potential for future development into antibiotics," Peel†said "That is the next step for our research, to see if these peptides have anti-cancer potential, if they are killing superbugs maybe they could kill the facial tumour." she added.

Peel said the tests were done with artificial peptides made by extracting the cathelicidin sequence from the devil's genome. The artificial peptides also tested as between three and six times more effective against some fungal infections than anti-fungal medication.

Milking the famously aggressive animals was a process to be undertaken "very, very carefully and with a lots of safety gear," Peel said.

"One of the most difficult things in today's world is to try and find new antibiotics for drug-resistant strains of bacteria," the research manager of the university's Australasian Wildlife Genomics Group, Carolyn Hogg, said.

"Most of the other previous antibiotics have come from plants, moulds and other work that's been around for close to a 100 years, so it's time to start looking elsewhere."

Source: Medindia

News A-Z
What's New on Medindia
Test Your Knowledge on Sugar Intake and Oral Health
Test  Your Knowledge on Heart
Test Your Knowlege on Genes
View all
Recommended Reading
News Archive
News Category

Medindia Newsletters Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!
Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

More News on:
Pasteurization of milk Types of Milk Why Do We Eat - Nutrition Facts Diet Lifestyle and Heart Disease Types of Food Allergies The Acid-Alkaline balance, Diet and Health Acid Base Dietary Balance and its Influence on Our Health and Wellbeing Lactose Intolerance Surprising Benefits of Dairy Calcium Rich Foods 

Most Popular on Medindia

Sinopril (2mg) (Lacidipine) Vent Forte (Theophylline) Diaphragmatic Hernia Find a Hospital Blood - Sugar Chart Selfie Addiction Calculator Turmeric Powder - Health Benefits, Uses & Side Effects Daily Calorie Requirements Nutam (400mg) (Piracetam) Drug Interaction Checker
This site uses cookies to deliver our services. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use

Devilís Milk Could Be The New Weapon Against Superbugs Personalised Printable Document (PDF)

Please complete this form and we'll send you a personalised information that is requested

You may use this for your own reference or forward it to your friends.

Please use the information prudently. If you are not a medical doctor please remember to consult your healthcare provider as this information is not a substitute for professional advice.

Name *

Email Address *

Country *

Areas of Interests