Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Giant Pandas: Source of New Antibiotic?
Here is an interesting article from The Telegraph reporting on research into antimicrobial compounds encoded in giant panda DNA. A compound called "cathelicidin-AM" was found to have potent antimicrobial activity.

The article notes that this compound can be created synthetically (e.g., giant pandas, which are few in number, do not have to be the primary source of compound production). The results of this research are intriguing but much is uncertain at this point: will cathelicidin-AM have a role in combating human infections? Only more research (and more time) will tell.

Certainly this research does highlight the fact that many antimicrobial compounds exist in the natural world (the vast majority of human antimicrobials are derived from natural products) and, predictably, there are numerous potential compounds still 'out there' to be discovered. As humans encroach more on the natural world there is the danger that we may lose many of these compounds before they are discovered.

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