Compound in Panda Blood Could Fight Superbugs

Researchers have discovered a potent antibody in panda blood, which could help fight increasingly prevalent drug-resistant strains of infections.

Cathelicin-AM was discovered when researchers analyzed the DNA of pandas. It can kill fungi and bacteria. Scientists think that the antibiotic is released to protect the animals from infections in the wild. In studies, it was able to kill standard and drug-resistant strains of microbes and fungi. The efficacy is also very quick, killing off strains of bacteria in just an hour, while conventional antibiotics needed six hours.

“Gene-encoded antimicrobial peptides play an important role in innate immunity against noxious microorganisms,” lead researcher Dr. Xiuwen Yen, from the Life Sciences College of Nanjing Agricultural University, in China said to the Telegraph. “They cause much less drug resistance of microbes than conventional antibiotics.”

Researchers have been able to synthesize a version of the compound in the lab, decoding the genes in order to create a peptide. This is good news, since there are only 1,600 pandas in the world today, and they are notoriously bad at breeding, even in the wild.

The scientists hope that their synthetic version can be deployed as an antibiotic or as a surface sanitizer and believe that the panda genome holds other drugs that could help as well.


Yan X, Zhong J, Liu H, Liu C, Zhang K, Lai R., “The cathelicidin-like peptide derived from panda genome is a potential antimicrobial peptide.” Gene. 2012 Jan 25;492(2):368-74. doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2011.11.009. Epub 2011 Nov 10.

[via Medical Daily]

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  • Rabin Handel

    I have always believed that the answer we are looking for can be found in the elements around us. Sometimes right under our noses! This was a great post! Thanks