Australian researchers have found that chemicals found in the milk of Tasmanian devils' marsupials can kill some of the deadliest bacterial infections. This discovery could help create a new class of "weapons" in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Marsupial mammals, in contrast to placental mammals, are forced to seek "refuge" in the bags of their mothers soon after birth. This cozy environment provides them with protection and a constant source of food, but it is far from the most sterile place in the world. Moreover, cubs of marsupials are born within a few weeks of pregnancy and have an underdeveloped immune system. In order to protect their offspring from bacteria, mothers are able to produce milk with antimicrobial peptides.
Based on these considerations, a group of scientists from the University of Sydney decided to analyze the milk of marsupial Tasmanian devils. They found in it antimicrobial peptides - cathelicidins. These substances protect animals from widespread pathogenic bacteria that infect humans, including Staphylococcus aureus and fecal enterococcus.
Cathelicidins act even on those microorganisms that are resistant to "common" antibiotics.
The authors of the work, published in the journal Scientific Reports, believe that cathelicidins protect the babies of Tasmanian devils from pathogens.
“We were able to establish in laboratory conditions that the peptides in the milk of the devils are capable of killing bacteria that are resistant to many antibiotics,” notes study author Emma Peer. - It's really cool".
Scientists hope this discovery will help create a new class of powerful antibiotics in the future.