London - Could this be the answer to super-resistant superbugs?
Biologists have discovered a compound in Giant Panda blood that may form the basis of powerful new antibiotic drugs.
If their preliminary trials prove correct, it could provide a solution to the increasing resistance of bugs to widely-used antibiotics.
It would also give us another reason to save these beautiful creatures from extinction - there are thought to be only around 1,600 left in the wild.
The compound identified by the scientists - cathelicidin-AM - kills bacteria and fungi in a panda’s bloodstream and experts hope it could be used in a wide range of human medicine.
Researchers at China’s Nanjing Agricultural University have been able to produce the antibiotic artificially in the laboratory - a great advantage given the panda’s notoriously poor breeding record.
The crucial compound was found to kill bacteria in the panda’s blood in less than an hour while other well-known antibiotics took more than six hours. Dr Xiuwen Yan, who led the research, says it could also be developed as an antiseptic for cleaning surfaces, and there may be other life-saving drugs in the panda genome. - Daily Mail