on October 16, 2008 at London Zoo.

    Meet our unlikely new ally in the battle against lethal bacteria

    12 April 2017

    A molecule found in the blood of Komodo dragons can help to heal infected wounds, according to research at George Mason University in the US.

    The researchers were able to create a synthetic version of the antimicrobial compound, which they then tested in mice.

    According to the study, published in Biofilms and Microbiomes, a Nature partner journal, this discovery could lead to the development of a new type of antibiotic. This could be important in the future as antibiotic resistance renders old drugs less effective.

    During studies led by Monique van Hoek, researchers found that the compound, named DRGN-1, effectively healed mouse wounds infected with MRSA, which is extremely resistant to antibiotic treatment.

    The study’s authors believe DRGN-1 could be developed as a local treatment for infected wounds, although so far it has only been tested in mice and on two types of bacteria.

    Instant analysis
    There are many holy grails in medicine, but one right at the top of the list is the development of new antibiotics to help counter the menacing rise of antibiotic resistance which is starting to become a global concern. However, with only two new classes of antibiotic having come on to the market in the last half century, any new breakthrough in this area is always encouraging.

    This American research does seem to show potential and is linked to the anomaly that Komodo dragons appear to be immune from potentially lethal bacteria that live in their mouth. The reason may be the presence of a protein called DRGN-1 in their blood, which seems to have marked antimicrobial activity and which promotes the healing of infected wounds in mice.

    This is only the start of a long trial process but if these initial findings can be replicated in humans then this could be an early chink of light in the development of the next generation of antibiotics.
    Research score: 4/5