Recently, a study was conducted by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in India. This study suggests that the milk of egg-laying mammal, Echidna, is the key to new and novel antibiotics.
Antibiotics have been saving mankind from bacterial diseases for almost a century. The first antibiotic, penicillin, was discovered in 1928 by Alexander Fleming. Countless drugs have been made since then from Alexander’s unique discovery. Many other antibiotics’ discovery followed the course which helped in controlling many diseases.
Unfortunately, the success in finding unique antibiotics came to a halt soon enough. At the same time, the antibiotic-resistant bacteria also kept on growing. As a result, the global disease burden worsened. In such a pessimistic time for antibiotic research, this new study is a bright ray of hope.
What did the study find?
The new study has found that the milk of the Echidna contains a protein which has antimicrobial properties. Echidna is one of the few mammals that lay eggs. It also lacks nipples and the young ones get the milk from the surface of their mother’s bodies. As a result, a lot of microorganisms have the chance to enter the bodies of young ones. The antimicrobial protein in the milk then comes in handy in protecting the young ones from diseases.
According to research, the antimicrobial protein can puncture the cell membranes of many bacteria species and thus is an effective antibiotic. The research team has also figured out a way to mass produce the protein using E.coli bacteria. They are hopeful that with massive production rates this protein will replace existing antibiotics in the future.
What does it mean for disease-ridden countries?
This discovery is great news for countries, under a huge burden of bacterial diseases, such as Pakistan. Dengue has become the biggest challenge for health-care professionals in the country. According to a WHO report, there have been more than 21,000 cases of dengue in Pakistan since 2010.
Another bacterial disease that is haunting the Pakistani population is tuberculosis. According to a national report, Pakistan currently ranks fifth among the countries with the highest burden of the disease. Tuberculosis claims hundreds of lives each year.
Amidst such chaotic outbreaks of bacterial diseases, the discovery of a new antibiotic is a ray of hope. It can bring much improvement in the disease burden in the country if produced on a large scale.