Cockroach brains could be rich stores of new antibiotics

CockroachCockroaches could be moreof 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 cockroaches 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 cells.

Simon Lee, a postgraduate researcher 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 antibiotics could potentially provide alternatives to currently available drugs that may be effective but have serious and unwanted side effects.”

Mr Lee explained why it is unsurprising that insects secrete their own antimicrobials. 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.”

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