Alligator blood antibiotics

Researchers are studying American alligator blood as a potential source for powerful new antibiotics. Apparently, proteins in the blood can kill E. coli, herpes simplex, and the nasty methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Apparently, many reptiles and amphibians have some of these powerful proteins flowing through their blood. From Science News:
 Articles 20080412 A9486 1821Many of these critters live in "sort of nasty places" that are polluted, and gators probably eat all kinds of sick animals, comments Paul Klein, a reptile infectious disease specialist at the University of Florida College of Medicine in Gainesville. Fierce battles with prey and other gators can leave gaping flesh wounds–but the animals are fairly hardy. These peptides provide a first line of defense–important in the lower vertebrates, who have a slower antibody response than humans, says Klein.

"It seems Mother Nature has built in a circulating system of antimicrobial factories that protect the animals while they are waiting to develop the cell-mediated response that we would develop quickly," he says.


  1. that reptilian brain has the advantage as well. Most people tend to get depressed after maiming a limb to the point of loss, something I’m sure releases all kinds of nasty depression hormones and neurotransmitters – all inimical to healing. Crocodiles, like Republicans, are untroubled by such and mend quicker.

  2. This could take Gatorade to a whole new level!

    (Smart-assery aside, this is really cool and I am definitely going to read up on it.)

  3. Yet more evidence of the biological superiority of reptilians. When will you monkeys finally concede?

  4. sick of those pesky cold sores? try new GATORBLOOD chap stick.


    That fruit roll up I just ate was delicious, and made me feel like I was 7.

  5. that’s pretty crazy stuff.

    hypothetical situation: we (humans) manufacture a new super antiobiotic that becomes widely used throughout the world. So much so to the point that bacteria become resistent to this new antiobiotic, consequently spelling out doom for reptiles world wide who will no longer be able to survive a simple cut.

    you think it could happen?

  6. Yeah, I just hope that new antibiotics aren’t overused like the old ones, causing the rise of even more powerful, antibiotic resistant superbugs.

    (I still hear people talk about taking a single antibiotic tablet when they have a cold– idiots!)

  7. Forget about antibiotics derived from the alligator blood – just find the genes responsible, and splice them into your offspring…

  8. I don’t think this would spell doom for reptiles. Gator farms are already a done deal.

    Gharial farms would be trickier.

  9. So this is where we first hear about the coming zombie human/alligator hybrid apocalypse.

    *plans on moving away from the Great Lakes area*

  10. Who remembers a short story about a guy who cures gators of their congenital heart problems? They end up growing wings, turning into dragons and conquering the earth.

  11. I’ve read that. Antinous. I might still have the book in a box somewhere. Where and which book is another matter though.

  12. “Although they eat mostly carrion,[3] they will also ambush live prey with a stealthy approach. When suitable prey arrives near a dragon’s ambush site, it will suddenly charge at the animal and go for the underside or the throat.[9] It is able to locate its prey using its keen sense of smell, which can locate a dead or dying animal from a range of up to 9.5 kilometers (6 miles).[9]”

    sounds like my dating technique

  13. AFAIK, herpes is a virus that can’t be killed by antibiotics and is essentially not curable. I didn’t see a reference to herpes simplex in the linked article. Is this a mistake, or does reptile blood also have some anti-viral properties?

  14. Reptile blood does indeed have antiviral properties. There is some old article from 2005 about crocodile blood fighting HIV in addition to having antibiotic properties:

    I’m not sure if alligator blood does the same thing.

    There is also a product line that is made of crocodile “oil” called repcillin. Who knows how effective it is, it may just be a “croc” (sorry, I couldn’t resist the bad pun). Yes, they do have croc blood lip balm.

  15. vulture shit is supposed to be pretty good too. That’s why they crap all over their legs while wading though rotting dinner

  16. it’s also becoming common knowledge that imbibing blended shark placenta actually cures acne (and in some instances dandruff!)

  17. I first heard about these bacteria-busting peptides 15 years ago. IIRC, they were discovered in the skin of amphibians and dubbed ‘magainins’ (from the Hebrew word for ‘shield’) back in the early ’90s.

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