Giant pandas produce their own antibiotic against superbugs

Monday, January 28, 2013 by: Ben Meredith
Tags: pandas, antibiotics, superbugs

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(NaturalNews) Scientists in China may have discovered the source of an innovative new antibiotic - and it comes from giant pandas.

The Life Sciences College of Nanjing Agricultural University in Nanjing, China was the site of the research, which was spurred by the World Health Organization (WHO) recognizing the necessity for more research into treatment for antibiotic-resistant Superbugs.

It was found that the blood of giant pandas contains an antibiotic compound called cathelicidin-AM. Not only does this compound kill bacteria and fungi, but it also kills bacteria significantly faster and more effectively than current, common antibiotics. In fact, the panda's cathelicidin-AM managed to kill bacteria in only an hour's time, as opposed to typical antibiotics that can take up to six hours. Furthermore, the panda antimicrobial was found to be effective against bacteria strains, both standard and drug-resistant.

It is theorized that the pandas may have developed this natural antibiotic to help stop and prevent any potential infections. Its properties are similar to those of the glycoprotein Lactoferrin, a naturally occurring component of the human body's innate immune system that acts as a bacteriocide and fungicide.

Unfortunately, giant pandas are nearing extinction due to a diminishing natural habitat, slow and shaky reproduction, and climate change. There are only 1,600 giant pandas remaining in the wild, a fact that left scientists wondering how to attain this important antibiotic.

Researchers looked into the giant panda's DNA to figure out how to synthesize the cathelicidin-AM, and they found a small molecule called a peptide. The lead researcher of the study, Dr. Xiuwen Yan, stated that genetic antibiotics are unlikelier to cause drug-resistance. He also said that there have been over 1,000 antimicrobial peptides discovered in animals, plants, and microorganisms.

The WHO has shown concern about antibiotic resistance, especially because it is leading to antibiotic overuse. Dr. Margaret Chan, the WHO's director-general, said in March 2012 that overusing antibiotics is so common these days that it can turn into something very sinister for human immunity, eventually turning basic health issues like scraped knees or strep throat into possibly deadly conditions.

This antimicrobial discovery gives the research team hope for its potential. They intend to synthetically create an antibiotic to kill drug-resistant Superbugs of bacterium. They are also striving to create an antiseptic meant for cleaning surfaces that could be contaminated with Staph in hospitals. Every year in the U.S., about 100,000 hospitalized patients contract staph infections, and there are approximately 19,000 yearly deaths due to Staph.

The discovery of this peptide in the giant panda, and the capability to synthetically recreate it, gives the medical community a possible mend-all for bacterial and fungal contractions.

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Ben enjoys writing about the benefits of green tea at, a revenue sharing site that publishes unique and interesting articles.

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