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Panda antibiotic discovered by scientists

China Daily | Updated: 2013-03-22 11:28

Other than being cuddly, scientists have discovered another reason for liking the giant panda: the animal has a powerful antibiotic in its blood stream that can kill a wide range of bacteria, including those resistant to antibiotics, according to the British newspaper the Daily Telegraph .

Researchers at the Life Sciences College of Nanjing Agricultural University in China led by Yan Xiuwen made the discovery, the Telegraph reported in December.

The microbial compound is thought to be released by the bear's immune system to protect it from infections when the animal is living in the wild.

Known as cathelicidin-AM, the compound was found through DNA analysis of the giant panda genome. Cathelicidin-AM, the Telegraph said, was able to kill bacteria in less than an hour - other widely used antibiotics took more than six hours to be as effective.

Scientists won't need to depend on the animal's unreliable breeding capability to harvest the new antibiotic because they've been able to synthesise it artificially in the lab by decoding the genes, the Telegraph reported. They hope to develop the substance as a new drug to tackle superbugs or as an antiseptic for cleaning surfaces and utensils, according to the newspaper.

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