Nov 20, 2018 | Updated: 03:14 AM EDT

Breastmilk Protein Can Eradicate Superbugs, Study Reveals

Jan 25, 2016 06:44 AM EST


Antibiotic-resistance in hospital grows an increasing concern among those from the medical field. But an emerging study, which is being hailed as a major discovery, found that breast milk contains an antibiotic capable of treating drug-resistant bacteria.

A protein medically known as lactoferrin, a component that keeps babies healthy in their first few months could be effective in killing bacteria, viruses and fungi. According to British Scientists, lactoferrin can rewrite the DNA of a cell and eradicate bacteria in less than a second, thereby inhibiting them to regenerate or evolve defense, as the new drug reportedly attacks the bacteria's basic biology.

The study published in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal, Chemical Science, revealed that the newly discovered antibiotic can identify and target specific bacteria without causing damage to its neighboring cells. After its discovery, scientists re-engineered the smaller than a nanometre width fragments into a virus-like capsule.

Then the scientists used atomic force microscopy to devise a high-speed measurement platform to keep track of the capsules' real-time activities. The major challenge of monitoring is not on tracking down the capsule but on following their invasion into the bacterial membranes.

In addition, the drugs can also purportedly cure sickle-cell anemia, a genetic disease where mutated hemoglobin at low oxygen levels results to distorted red blood cells, as claimed by the researchers from the National Physical Laboratory.

Recently, Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer, had given warning to the public about overusing antibiotics. She said that overconsumption could result to bacteria to gain resistance against commonly used drugs.

However, it seems that the world is not prepared to antibiotic free, as health ministers continue to seek for potent new drugs. "And we did disinvest as a world in this sort of research, so we need to make an investment and sustain it," she said.

On the other hand, David Cameron also gave caution about the fight against these superbugs, warning it could bring back modern medicine into the Dark Ages. Antibiotic-resistant superbugs account for nearly 700,000 people annually across the globe.

According to the panel formed by the prime minister, it predicted that if the problem remains unresolved, it would claim 10 million lives and £700 billion every year by 2050.

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