September 7, 2010
Insect Brains Are Rich Stores Of New Antibiotics
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 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.
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