Komodo dragons are known for many things: for being the biggest lizards on the planet; for being an excellent tool for disposing of James Bond’s enemies ; and for having mouths so filthy that they can poison whoever they choose to bite. However, the last of those facts has led scientists to a brand new discovery about Komodo dragon blood that may prove to be pivotal in doctors’ fight against infections.
Komodo dragons’ blood contains a peptide called DRGN-1 that showcases very strong anti-bacterial properties and promotes more rapid wound healing, both of which are crucial when their mouths are swarming with such high concentrations of bacteria cultures. Scientists tested a compound created from this specific peptide on mice with skin lesions and found that mice who had it applied to them healed their wounds much faster than those without.
The next step is likely to be isolation of the peptide and working with it in creating stronger immune systems in patients, and working against superbugs like MRSA.
Students going for Biology should look at the Komodo dragon in more detail as it is a fascinating animal in many other aspects (size, isolation, hunting capacity, the myth about its bacterial bite). Medical applicants can look at how bacterial immunities occur, and how peptides work in the human body.
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