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:
Many 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.