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A Surprising Use for Cockroaches
by admin on: January 2nd, 2012

In September 2010 scientists from the University of Nottingham found a new use for cockroaches. This group of researchers has identified up to nine different molecules in the brain and nervous tissue of cockroaches that are toxic to bacteria. With further research, it is possible that these molecules may be developed into treatments for bacterial infections. Perhaps what is most promising is that preliminary studies have demonstrated that the tissues from the brain and nervous system were able to kill about 90 percent of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). In addition to killing the MRSA, the brain and nervous tissue from cockroachs was also able to kill Escherichia coli (E. coli).

As the name implies, MRSA is a strain of bacteria that are resistant to the antibiotics that are usually given to treat bacterial infections. Under ???normal??? conditions, the antibiotic would bind to a particular site and kill the bacterial organism. However, these antibiotic-resistant bacteria are resistant to Meticillin because they have the “mec gene,” which alters the site where the drug would bind. Thus, the drug is unable to bind to the bacteria and cannot kill it.

One theory as to why the cockroach developed these molecules is magnificent in its simplicity. As one of the authors of this study stated, cockroaches live in unsanitary and unhygienic conditions. Because of this, it is likely cockroaches come into contact with all kinds of bacteria. In order to survive, they developed antimicrobials to protect themselves.

As mentioned above, further research may be able to develop these new molecules into an effective treatment. New treatments are essential, especially in the field of antibiotics. However, the pharmaceutical industry does not appear to be investigating many new antibiotics, which is most likely due to a lack of financial incentive and the high cost of developing drugs.

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