The platypus, a strange venomous duck-billed, beaver-tailed Australian mammal that can lay eggs, could help save lives through breast milk.
In 2010, scientists had already discovered that platypus milk contains antibacterial properties that could be used to fight antibiotic-resistant superbugs. Scientists have now managed to identify and replicate in the laboratory a protein with extraordinary properties present in this milk.
“The platypus is part of the family of monotremes, a small group of mammals that lay eggs and produce milk to feed their young. By analyzing her milk, we have identified a new protein with unique antibacterial properties that has the potential to save lives, “said study leader Dr. Janet Newman in a statement posted on the Commonwealth Scientific website. Industrial Research Organization.
Unlike other mammals, the platypus does not have teats. Instead, he secretes breast milk on his belly to nurse his young. In doing so, the milk is exposed to the external environment, which could explain why it has become rich over time with important antibacterial properties.
To achieve this result, the researchers analyzed the various proteins present in platypus milk. They also shelled the famous protein, to realize that it has a unique structure. “This discovery has improved our understanding of protein structure in general,” said Dr. Julie Sharp, who contributed to the study.
The discovery of new antibiotics is a priority in medicine. In 2014, the World Health Organization produced a report warning against the arrival of a “post-antibiotic era” where diseases, which had become resistant to antibiotics, could come back and start killing patients again.