Panda Blood Might Be a Magical, Fuzzy Super-Medicine

Researchers in China have isolated a powerful antimicrobial agent in the blood of endangered giant pandas, a peptide that could be effective against a wide range of dangerous drug-resistant microorganisms. A pandacea, if you will. (MY BAD.)

According to researchers from Life Sciences College of Nanjing Agricultural University and other organizations in China, giant panda blood contains a peptide (a type of amino acid) that, when synthesized, "showed potential antimicrobial activities against wide spectrum of microorganisms," including bacteria and fungi. A test of the peptide found that it killed Staphylococcus sciuri bacteria in just one hour, compared to the six hours required by clindamycin, a currently used antibiotic. The peptide was even found to be effective against drug-resistant strains, often referred to as "superbugs."

The researchers' paper outlining their discovery was published online more than a year ago in the journal Gene but it is just now getting wider press.

I have zero clue how to ethically parse the idea of taking blood from a highly endangered species (there are only about 1,600 pandas left in the wild) to make Panda Purell for our own grossly overproducing species, but this is pretty interesting nonetheless. And, if the panda peptides prove to be legitimately useful for public health, it might be a major boon for habitat preservation and captive breeding efforts. And unfortunately for poachers, the medicine only works if you defeat the panda in a game of riddles first. So.

Giant panda holds potential as powerful antibiotic, researchers say [MNN]