The Australian platypus is such a bizarre creature that back in the day, some of the early European zoologists didn’t even believe in its existence. For them, this animal was like a beast from Newt Scamander’s famous fictional book.
The platypus slightly resembles a duck, it lays eggs, and is semi-aquatic. Perhaps most importantly, it possesses poisonous spurs at its feet.
However, according to a new study, which the journal Structural Biology Communications recently published, these little creatures might have something else unique about them. The chemical structure of their milk might one day help us fight off superbugs.
To reach this result, a team of molecular biologists from Australia managed to isolate the monotreme lactation protein structure. What they found amazed them. Namely, they detected a novel chemical structure that could one day help us create a new type of antibiotics.
According to Janet Newman, the study lead it actually makes sense for platypuses to have such a bizarre biochemistry. It’s interesting that back in 2010, a team from Deakin University in Geelong, Victoria, discovered a lactation protein in the platypus milk. This reportedly has huge antibacterial properties.
The Valuable and Bizarre Platypus Milk
Newman said that these antibacterial properties work against some dangerous bugs present in the environment. However, they do not work against the bacteria from the guts of babies. One hypothesis from the experts is that because platypuses don’t have teats, the milk has to protect the baby from certain infections. Once mammals evolved nipples, which is a very sterile milk delivery system, this protein lost its importance.
Th researchers now think that this novel structure could one day lead to the creation of therapies that deal with microbial infections in a different way than the antibiotics we have today. It could also be very effective against superbugs, which are bacteria that have built up resistance to antibiotics.
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