Platy­pus key to su­per­bug war


ONE of Aus­tralia’s most reclu­sive na­tive an­i­mals could hold the se­cret to fight­ing off su­per­bugs.

Vic­to­rian sci­en­tists have made a new dis­cov­ery about platy­pus milk that could help de­velop new types of an­timi­cro­bial wound dress­ings and top­i­cal creams.

A global race is un­der way to find new ways to kill off bac­te­ria as fears grow many are be­com­ing re­sis­tant to an­tibi­otics and other treat­ments.

Platy­puses don’t have teats so milk is re­leased through pores in the skin and their young drink off their stom­ach.

Deakin Univer­sity’s Dr Julie Sharp said this ex­posed the milk to bac­te­ria, which was why sci­en­tists be­lieved it con­tained such po­tent an­tibac­te­rial prop­er­ties.

In a new find­ing, CSIRO sci­en­tists recre­ated a pro­tein found in platy­pus milk and dis­cov­ered it had a unique 3D fold in the struc­ture of the pro­tein.

Dr Sharp said be­cause the milk had such a unique struc­ture, it sug­gested there was a new mech­a­nism for killing bac­te­ria, which could help cir­cum­vent the process of an­timi­cro­bial re­sis­tance. The find­ings are pub­lished in Struc­tural Bi­ol­ogy Com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

The reclu­sive platy­pus could hold the key to fight­ing off su­per­bugs.

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