An antibiotic against superbugs from Komodo dragon

Barney Bishop and Monique van Hoek, researchers at George Mason University in Virginia, have published a study about Komodo dragons, a species of varani ranging from two to three meters in length, believed to be the last survivors of a population become extinct in Pleistocene, part of the family Varanidae. The study reveals why these fierce predators can kill their victims with just a bite, but are totally immune to bites inflicted by other dragons. The researchers have identified a lethal mixture of pathogenic bacteria in their saliva, which immediately induce an infection. Moreover, the scientists have identified as many as 48 novel potent antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) in their blood. These peptides have exhibited antimicrobial activity against pathogenic bacteria, such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus (meningitis). The discovery could lead to develop novel, highly potent antibiotics based on this new class of AMPs. Developing new antibiotics against the so-called superbugs is nowadays crucial for research, as bacteria have now reached extremely high levels of antibiotic-resistance in hospitals and as many as 700,000 deaths a year caused by infections by superbugs have been reported. (Source: Journal of Proteome Research)