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Proteins of platypus milk can protect against multi-resistant bacteria


Why does platypus milk have antibacterial properties?

Already in 2010 it was found that milk from platypus has antibacterial properties that can fight multi-resistant bacteria. Since then, researchers have been working to decipher why this milk has such a strong effect on bacteria.

  • Platypus milk has strong antibacterial properties.
  • Protein from platypus milk could fight multi-resistant bacteria in the future.
  • Researchers were able to artificially produce the protein and decipher the structure.
  • Experts warn of a post-antibiotic age.

Together, scientists from CSIRO and Deakin University found out why platypus milk has such strong antibacterial properties. This understanding could lead to the development of new drugs that will protect humanity from so-called super-pathogens in the future. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "Structural Biology Communications".

Platypus have many interesting properties

Platypus have many unique properties. For example, they have a duckbill, a beaver's tail, can lay eggs and male animals have poison spurs, which makes the platypus very interesting for evolutionary biology. Researchers found that platypus milk also has unique antibacterial properties that could be used to combat so-called multi-resistant bacteria in the future.

Protein was replicated in the laboratory

A special protein from the milk of platypus was replicated by the scientists in a laboratory environment. This enabled the unique antibacterial properties of this protein to be determined and examined in more detail. “Platypus are strange animals that have a strange biochemistry. The platypus belongs to the cattle animals, a small group of mammals that lay eggs and produce milk to feed their young. By examining their milk more closely, we have characterized a new protein that has unique antibacterial properties that can save lives, ”explains study author Dr. Janet Newman of CSIRO in a press release.

Why does milk have antibacterial properties?

Since platypuses have no teats, they pour their milk onto their bellies so that the young can pick them up there. This process exposes the mother's nutritious milk to the environment, making babies vulnerable to bacteria. The researchers suspect that this is the reason why platypus milk contains a protein with rather unusual and protective antibacterial properties, explains Dr. Julie Sharp from Deakin University. "We were interested in studying the structure and properties of the protein to find out exactly which part of the protein does what," added the expert in the press release.

Protein is specially folded

The research team has successfully produced the protein. Then its structure was decoded in order to better examine it. This allowed the doctors to identify a 3D fold that had never been detected before. The discovery of the new protein fold is quite special, explains Dr. Newman.

Knowledge improves knowledge about protein structures

Although this highly unusual protein is only found in sewage animals, this discovery improves knowledge about protein structures in general and will promote further drug research, the authors say.

Is humanity at risk of a post-antibiotic age?

In 2014, the World Health Organization published a report that highlighted the magnitude of the global threat of antibiotic resistance and called for urgent measures to avoid a so-called post-antibiotic age in which infections and minor injuries that could be treated for decades could be fatal again. (as)

Author and source information


Video: Platypus Parts. National Geographic (August 2020).