Cockroach brains could be rich stores of new antibiotics

September 6, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Cockroaches could be more of a health benefit than a health hazard according to scientists from The University of Nottingham.

Experts from the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science have discovered powerful antibiotic properties in the brains of and locusts which could lead to novel treatments for multi-drug resistant bacterial infections. They found that the tissues of the brain and nervous system of the insects were able to kill more than 90 per cent of MRSA and pathogenic Escherichia coli, without harming human .

Simon Lee, a postgraduate researcher presented their work at the Society for General Microbiology’s autumn meeting which is being held at The University of Nottingham between the 6 and 9 September 2010. The research has identified up to nine different in the insect tissues that were toxic to bacteria.

Simon Lee said: “We hope that these molecules could eventually be developed into treatments for E. coli and MRSA infections that are increasingly resistant to current drugs. These new could potentially provide alternatives to currently available drugs that may be effective but have serious and unwanted side effects.”

Dr Naveed Khan, an Associate Professor of Molecular Microbiology who is supervising Simon Lee’s work said: “Superbugs such as MRSA have developed resistance against the chemotherapeutic artillery that we throw at them. They have shown the ability to cause untreatable infections, and have become a major threat in our fight against bacterial diseases. Thus, there is a continuous need to find additional sources of novel antimicrobials to confront this menace.”

Using state-of-the-art analytical tools, Dr Khan and his team are studying the specific properties of the antibacterial molecules. Research is currently underway to test the potency of these molecules against a variety of emerging superbugs such as Acinetobacter, Pseudomonas and Burkholderia.

Mr Lee explained why it is unsurprising that insects secrete their own . He said: “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.”

Explore further: Running out of treatments: The problem superbugs resistant to everything

Related Stories

New antibiotic beats superbugs at their own game

July 3, 2008

The problem with antibiotics is that, eventually, bacteria outsmart them and become resistant. But by targeting the gene that confers such resistance, a new drug may be able to finally outwit them. Rockefeller University ...

Marijuana ingredients show promise in battling superbugs

September 8, 2008

Substances in marijuana show promise for fighting deadly drug-resistant bacterial infections, including so-called "superbugs," without causing the drug's mood-altering effects, scientists in Italy and the United Kingdom are ...

Recommended for you

Genomes uncover life's early history

August 24, 2015

A University of Manchester scientist is part of a team which has carried out one of the biggest ever analyses of genomes on life of all forms.

Rare nautilus sighted for the first time in three decades

August 25, 2015

In early August, biologist Peter Ward returned from the South Pacific with news that he encountered an old friend, one he hadn't seen in over three decades. The University of Washington professor had seen what he considers ...

Why a mutant rice called Big Grain1 yields such big grains

August 24, 2015

(Phys.org)—Rice is one of the most important staple crops grown by humans—very possibly the most important in history. With 4.3 billion inhabitants, Asia is home to 60 percent of the world's population, so it's unsurprising ...

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

ormondotvos
5 / 5 (1) Sep 06, 2010
Maybe WE'll be the last species left on earth!
Arikin
not rated yet Sep 06, 2010
Well we won't run out of a steady supply if we can't synthesize these ourselves...

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.