Crocodile Blood: Could be the New Source for Antibiotics and HIV Cure.

Credit: The Science Times, Staff Reporter: Apr 21, 2019 06:49 AM EDT & Research at University Health Network

Research into the antibiotic and other medicinal properties of crocodiles is not new but given the development of drug tolerance bacteria and viruses and the waning effectiveness, the research seems to be getting some traction.

Biologists observing the behavior of wild crocodiles noticed that even though crocodiles often engaged in violent territorial behavior and damaging encounters with other animals, very few ever developed fatal infections from their injuries. Even spending most of their time in bacteria-infested swamp water did not seem to affect the healing process. Such natural resistance to bacterial infection is not rare in wild animals, but the blood of crocodiles seemed to be especially resistant.

Concentrated human serum and concentrated crocodile serum samples were each exposed to 23 strains of bacteria, including the one responsible for MRSA. The human blood serum managed to kill off 8 of the 23 bacteria cultures. The crocodiles' blood serum killed all 23 bacteria cultures, including MRSA. It also significantly reduced the overall level of HIV in a sample of infected human blood.

Because of the promising results of these tests, scientists have started to synthesize the chemical structure of the crocodile blood peptides. One identified the first Crocodylus siamensis cathelicidin gene and RN15 peptide derived from the cathelin domain to exhibit antibacterial activity (Tankrathok et. al 2019), and yet the most promising result is that of a study conducted by Dr. Donald Branch (Toronto General Hospital Research Institute; TGHRI Affiliate Scientist and Princess Margaret Cancer Centre; PM CCRU Researcher) and Stephen McCarthy (University of Toronto). Their research team infected human cells with HIV in the presence of crocodile blood and found that the blood suppressed HIV infection.

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