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Sick and need antibiotics? Cockroach brains may help

September 03, 2010
  • Cockroach (and locust) brains could kill MRSA, E. coli and other bacteria
Cockroach (and locust) brains could kill MRSA, E. coli and other bacteria (Science )

The next cures for bacterial infections may come from an unlikely place: cockroach brains.

Tissues from cockroach and locust brains and nervous systems killed off 90% of E. coli and MRSA bacteria without harming the human cells they were attacking, according to researchers from the University of Nottingham.

The findings, released Saturday, are being presented this week at the autumn meeting of the Society for General Microbiology in Nottingham, Great Britain.

The researchers suspect it’s the proteins in the insect brains that so effectively kill the bacteria.

And it’s a property that seems to come only from tissues in the brain and nervous system -- muscle, fat and circulatory fluid had no effect on the bacteria. They’re currently studying the properties of as many as nine antimicrobial molecules, trying to figure out how they work and why.

The research gives credence to the idea that scientists will be able to discover new treatments in the natural world for these increasingly antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

All in all, pretty impressive -- for a bug brain.

-- Amina Khan / Los Angeles Times

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