advertisement
07 September 2010

Insect brains the new antibiotic

Cockroaches could be more of a health benefit than a health hazard according to scientists who have discovered powerful antibiotic properties in the brains of insects.

0

Cockroaches could be more of a health benefit than a health hazard according to scientists from the University of Nottingham, who have discovered powerful antibiotic properties in the brains of cockroaches and locusts.

Simon Lee, a postgraduate researcher who is presenting his work at the Society for General Microbiology's autumn meeting in Nottingham, describes how the group identified up to nine different molecules in the insect tissues that were toxic to bacteria. These substances could lead to novel treatments for multi-drug resistant bacterial infections.

The group found that the tissues of the brain and nervous system of the insects were able to kill more than 90% of Meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Escherichia coli, without harming human cells. Studying the specific properties of the antibacterial molecules is currently underway in the laboratory.

Could be treatment for E. coli

"We hope that these molecules could eventually be developed into treatments for E. coli and MRSA infections that are increasingly resistant to current drugs," explained Mr Lee. "Also, these new antibiotics could potentially provide alternatives to currently available drugs that may be effective but have serious and unwanted side effects," he said.

The pharmaceutical industry is generating fewer and fewer new antibiotics due to lack of financial incentives, meaning that alternative sources of new drugs are much needed. Mr Lee explained why it is unsurprising that insects secrete their own antimicrobials.

"Insects often live in unsanitary and unhygienic environments where they encounter many different types of bacteria. It is therefore logical that they have developed ways of protecting themselves against micro-organisms," he explained. (EurekAlert/ September 2010)

Read more:  Urinary Tract Infection

 
advertisement

Get a quote

advertisement

Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Live healthier

Allergy alert »

Life-threatening allergy attacks Are you allergic to wine? Allergy tests that work

All you need to know about allergy

The warm days of Spring are here again and as welcome as the warmth and sunshine might be, it also signifies the start of Spring allergy season.

Up for grabs »

Tell us about your health Stay warm when the lights go out Win R1000 in cash!

Win an energy-saving Spindel

Enter our competition and stand a chance of winning an energy saving Spindel valued at R2200!