Breast milk protein could destroy super bugs

Breast milk protein could destroy super bugs


An antibiotic developed from human breast milk can destroy certain types of drug-resistant bacteria, says a report by ‘The Times’.A study by the UK’s National Physical Laboratory and University College London found that Lactoferrin effectively kills bacteria, fungi and even virus on contact, the newspaper said.It also said that it could help fight genetic disorders like sickle-cell disease.Medical community considers the threat of superbugs potentially lethal as they evolve rapidly to defeat any antibiotics thrown at them.Lactoferrin, a fragment of protein less than a nanometre in width, gives breast milk its antibiotic properties. This is why breast milk is so important in protecting newborns from diseases.But the new study, reported in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Chemical Science, suggests that lectoferrin is more than just any other antibiotic.The protein works so fast, destroying bacteria in fraction of a second, that it’s hoped superbugs will simply not get the time to develop resistance.Researchers re-engineered lactoferrin into a virus-like capsule, which is able to target specific bacteria and damage them on contact without affecting surrounding cells.”The challenge was not just to see the capsules, but to follow their attack on bacterial membranes.

“The result was striking: the capsules acted as projectiles porating the membranes with bullet speed and efficiency,” the ‘International Business Times’ quoted Hasan Alkassem, a student who worked on the project, saying.The discovery gives new hope the fight against superbugs, as England’s Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies told the Times she is confident new antibiotics will be discovered.”We need on average 10 new antibiotics every decade,” she told the paper.The finding comes as the UK government has created a specialist panel to tackle superbugs, which kill 700,000 people a year worldwide.The panel said if new drugs are not discovered by 2050 up to 10 million lives could be lost a year worldwide.British Prime Minister David Cameron has warned that it could plunge modern medicine “back into the Dark Ages”.Colin Garner, honorary professor of pharmacology at the University of York and head of the charity Antibiotic Research UK, said the situation demanded much urgency and could not wait for an international consensus.The pipeline of new drugs had dried up and the problem was on the brink of becoming “intractable”, he told the Times.


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