The weird egg laying mammal with a duck’s bill on its face may hold the key to the problem of our antibiotics not working well against resistant bacteria and germs. Via Sky News:
A breakthrough by Australian scientists has found that the platypus – which is already a unique creature – is also in possession of fairly unique biochemistry.
Researchers from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and Deakin University have discovered a special protein contained in platypus milk.
CSIRO scientist and lead author Dr Janet Newman said: “Platypus are such weird animals that it would make sense for them to have weird biochemistry.
“The platypus belongs to the monotreme family, a small group of mammals that lay eggs and produce milk to feed their young.
“By taking a closer look at their milk, we’ve characterised a new protein that has unique antibacterial properties with the potential to save lives.”
The study, published in Structural Biology Communications, finds that the way platypus mothers feed their young – which unusually for mammals hatch from eggs – has led to the antibacterial properties developing.
Platypus do not have teats, but instead express milk on to their belly where the young suckle it – meaning the milk becomes exposed to an environment where it could be contaminated by local bacteria.
Evolutionary processes have meant that the milk contains a special protein which protects the platypus babies against this bacteria.
Dr Julie Sharp of Deakin University said: “We were interested to examine the protein’s structure and characteristics to find out exactly what part of the protein was doing what.”
They found that the protein contained a unique 3D fold which had never been seen before in the structure of the molecule.
As Instapundit likes to say, “Faster, Please.”
Platypus, funny face, savior of the human race? (Apologies to The Doors)
Which will come first, the Zombie Apocalypse, or the Cure from mammals who lay eggs?
MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals.