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Platypus milk could be used to develop new superbug-killing antibiotics

20/03/2018

Platypus milk could be used to develop new superbug-killing antibiotics

Last month, we reported how scientists in the US had found superbug-killing antibiotics in soil. While that might have seemed an unlikely place to find something that has the potential to save countless lives, where scientists have now discovered powerful proteins capable of fighting superbugs is even stranger.


Back in 2010, Australian scientists found that platypus milk contains a potent protein which is able to fight superbugs.


As if Platypuses weren’t weird enough, what with their duck's beaks, venomous feet and the fact they’re mammals that lay eggs, their potentially beneficial milk only adds to their uniqueness.


While it’s been years since scientists made the discovery, it’s only now that they understand why platypus milk is so good at fighting superbugs.


Being monotremes, platypuses lay eggs and produce milk. However, they don’t have nipples and instead secrete milk through pores along their stomachs. It is this strange feeding system that is thought to give platypus milk its antibacterial properties, according to scientists.


Dr Janet Newman, from Australia's national science agency CSIRO, said: “Platypus are such weird animals that it would make sense for them to have weird biochemistry.”


While mammal milk is usually secreted via the animal’s nipples and remains sterile, platypus milk is decidedly dirtier. That’s why scientists think it contains unique antibacterial properties.


Scientists hope the milk can be used to develop new antibiotics that can help fight superbugs.

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