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Alligator Blood

April 23, 2008

Alligator blood may be a source of powerful antimicrobials.


Fighting microbes with alligators. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Alligators have fierce immune systems that help them heal after bloody fights. Now, scientists are trying to harness that power for human medicine. Lab work led by Mark Merchant of McNeese State University in Louisiana has shown that alligator blood can beat back a wide variety of nasty bugs, including HIV. Now grad student Lancia Darville of Louisiana State University is helping Merchant isolate specific anti-microbial proteins from gator blood.

LANCIA DARVILLE (Louisiana State University):
What we would like to do, is characterize the chemical structure of these proteins, and then begin to develop them into various antibacterial and antifungal drugs.

It’s not known if humans could tolerate such powerful antibiotics. And if you somehow have access to an alligator, don’t try making your own remedy: raw gator blood is definitely toxic. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the science society.