Alligator Peptides Could Protect Humans Against Wound infection

Sophisticated germ fighters found in alligator blood may help future soldiers in the field fend off infection, according to new research by George Mason University. The study, published Feb. 11 in the scientific journal PLOS One, is the result of a fundamental research project supported by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) to find bacterial infection-defeating compounds in the blood of the crocodilian family of reptiles, which includes American alligators. The project is about to start its fourth year and has received $6 million in funding to date from DTRA. If fully funded over five years, the project will be worth $7.57 million. Alligators live in bacteria-filled environments and dine on carrion. Yet this ancient reptile rarely falls ill. "If you look at nature, sometimes we can find pre-selected molecules to study," says study co-author Dr. Monique van Hoek. "I was surprised to find peptides that were as effective as they are in fighting bacteria. I was really impressed." Discoveries made by George Mason's 17-member, multidisciplinary research team could eventually find their way to the battlefield to protect fighters from wound infections and potential exposure to biothreat agents. Researchers believe this work could benefit civilians too. "We hope that these could be the basis [upon which] to develop new treatments," says Dr.van Hoek, a Professor in the School of Systems Biology and the National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases at George Mason. Dr. Van Hoek and lead co-authors Dr. Barney Bishop and Dr. Joel Schnur from the College of Science suspected the xxxx germ-fighting ability could be in the form of anti-microbial peptides.
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