Scientists Discover an Antibiotic Based on Komodo Dragon’s Blood, the Key to a Drug-Resistant Future

https://www.cntraveler.com/story/komodo-dragon-bites-tourist-trying-to-take-photos

https://www.cntraveler.com/story/komodo-dragon-bites-tourist-trying-to-take-photos

Serena Lawrence, journalist

     Komodo Dragons are the largest species of lizards in the world and are severely endangered. They have flat and long heads, round snouts, scaly skin, bowed legs, and big tails. Fully grown Komodo dragons can reach up to 10 feet in height and more than 300 pounds in weight. They are mainly found in Indonesia. Recently, scientists have discovered antibiotics based on the Komodo Dragon’s blood. How did people come up with this antidote? What are the benefits? And what are they planning on using this for in the future?

     Komodo dragons are ancient creatures, which means that they are successful in surviving different bacteria filled conditions.Snakes and alligators and Komodo dragons are evolutionarily ancient, which means that they are very successful at surviving the nasty bacteria-filled conditions they live in,”said  Monique van Hoek, associate director of research at George Mason University. Their saliva has over 80 strands of bacteria which don’t affect them. They are also known for their ability to survive severe wounds including lost limbs, even though they live in a filthy environment. 

     Scientists at George Mason University separated a substance in its blood and found that it has very powerful germ killing abilities. Based on this, they created a similar chemical, and named it “DRGN – 1”. They then tested it on a few mice with different types of bacteria in them. They learned three things. Firstly, they learned that it affected both the good and bad bacterias by punching holes in their outer membranes. Second, they learned that they dissolved the film that sticks the bacteria together. Finally, they learned that it speeds up skin healing.

     Researchers are currently investigating the mechanics behind the Komodo Dragons. Scientists say that its blood is filled with some proteins named “Antimicrobial Peptides” otherwise known as AMPs. AMPs are an all purpose infection defenses produced by all living things. Scientists are looking for changes in the genomes that allow the Komodo Dragons to adapt to their environment. Their research shows that many of the genes involved in how cells make and use energy, had changed rapidly in ways that increased the lizard’s aerobic capacity. Since lizards are not known for having high aerobic capacity, these changes are most likely to give the Komodo’s the ability to achieve near mammalian metabolism. Researchers created a new drug called “DNGR – 6” by combining two genes from the Komodo dragon’s blood. Clinical tests have shown that it can kill a highly drug resistant bacteria known to cause an aggressive form of pneumonia that’s responsible for 600 deaths in the US every year. 

      The Komodo Dragons blood holds hope for providing antibiotics that fight drug resistant bacterias in humans. Even though the antibiotics have only been tested on mice and two bacteria strains, scientists believe that in the future, it is a good candidate for additional studies and possibly a development as a topical therapeutic agent for infected wounds. 

 

Sarah Newey and Jordan Kelly-Linden, Scientist develop a potential antibiotic from Komodo dragon blood, October 28, 2020

BBC News, Is Komodo dragon blood the key to a new antibiotics?, April 11, 2017

Cella Wright, Could the key to fighting antibiotics resistant in humans be found in the blood of the deadly Komodo dragon?, October 31, 2019

Donald G. McNeil Jr.In a Dragon’s Blood Scientist Discover a Potential Antibiotic, April 17, 2017

Honor Whiteman, Komodo dragon blood may lead to new antibiotics, April 12, 2017