There is a fascinating study out this week where scientists at the University of Sydney in Australia have found that Tasmanian devil milk contains a remarkable collection of antimicrobial compounds. These compounds can kill some of the most deadly bacterial and fungal infections known to science including golden staph. While I would not want the job of milking Tasmanian devils down under at the farm, scientists are hopefully isolating these powerful compounds.
The milk includes six different types of antimicrobial compounds that show surprising success against a number of drug-resistant bacterial and fungal pathogens. This includes success against golden staph (Staphylococcus aureus) that is most deadly in cases of food poisoning, pneumonia, and toxic shock syndrome. It is also effective against Enterococcus, which can cause urinary tract infections and meningitis, as well as Candida krusei, the yeast species associated with high mortality. It also killed the airborne fungus called Cryptococcus gattii. That is an incredible capacity of these carnivorous marsupials found on the Australian island state of Tasmania.
The scientists have isolated two types of peptides – Saha-CATH5 and Saha-CATH6 – as critical to this capacity.
The study is another remainder of the danger of our loss of species and natural areas like the rain forest. The most incredible medical advances have been based on these type of naturally occurring compounds and chemicals. Species are being wiped out that could have the cure to cancer and other deadly threats to humanity. We are literally destroying the cures that we seek in failing to curtail clear cutting and destructions of natural areas.