Cockroaches may be nasty bugs, but they could help fight even nastier ones. New research finds that the rudimentary brains of cockroaches and locusts teem with antimicrobial compounds that slay harmful E. coli and MRSA, the antibiotic-resistant staph bacterium. The work could lead to new compounds for fighting infectious diseases in humans.
Extracts of ground-up brain and other nerve tissue from the American cockroach, Periplaneta americana, and desert locust, Schistocerca gregaria, killed more than 90 percent of a type of E. coli that causes meningitis, and also killed methicillin-resistant staph, microbiologist Simon Lee reported September 7 at the Society for General Microbiology meeting at the University of Nottingham in England.
“Some of these insects live in the filthiest places ever known to man,” says Naveed Khan, coauthor of the new study. “These insects crawl on dead tissue, in sewage, in drainage areas. We thought, ‘How do they cope with all the bacteria and parasites?’”
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