The milk of the platypus could save lives

News 18 March, 2018
  • Photo Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

    QMI agency

    Sunday, march 18, 2018 12:56

    Sunday, march 18, 2018 12:58

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    The duck-billed platypus, that strange mammal australian venomous-billed duck, beaver tail, and able to lay eggs, might help save lives through her milk.

    In 2010, scientists had already discovered that the milk of the platypus contains antibacterial properties which could be used to fight superbugs resistant to antibiotics. Scientists are now able to identify and replicate in the laboratory a protein to the extraordinary properties present in this milk.

    “The platypus is part of the family of the monotremes, a small group of mammals that lays eggs and produces milk to feed its babies. By analysing the milk, we have identified a novel protein with antibacterial properties in a unique way that has the potential to save lives,” explained the head of the study, dr. Janet Newman, in a press release published on the website of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.

    Unlike other mammals, the platypus does not have teats. It secretes instead of the breast milk on his belly, in order to breastfeed her young. By doing this, the milk is exposed to the external environment, which could explain why it is enriched with the time of important antibacterial properties.

    To achieve this result, the researchers have analyzed the different proteins present in the milk of the platypus. They have also dissected the famous protein, to find that it has a unique structure. “This discovery has improved our knowledge on the protein structure in general”, noted dr. Julie Sharp, who has contributed to the study.

    The discovery of new antibiotics is a priority in medicine. In 2014, the world health Organization had produced a report warning of the arrival of a “post-antibiotic” which of the diseases become resistant to antibiotics, could make a return and start killing patients.