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News Link • Science, Medicine and Technology

Rattlesnake venom extract helps strike back against superbugs

•, Michael Irving

Potential candidates have so far shown up in berries, honey, maple syrup, human breast milk, fungi, frog skin, and even platypus milk, and now a team from Australia and Spain has discovered a promising peptide in the venom of the South American Rattlesnake.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, or "superbugs," are one of the most pressing problems facing humanity today. Overprescription and overuse of drugs during the last few decades has led to bacteria that have evolved resistance to them. A recent report warned that if nothing is done, by 2050 we could be "cast back into the dark ages of medicine" where our drugs simply don't work and even the most routine of procedures becomes life-threatening again.

To keep ahead in the arms race, scientists are developing a range of new materials and drugs to fight superbugs. The new study, involving researchers from the University of Queensland in Australia and Pompeu Fabra University in Spain, has tested a new antibiotic candidate found in the venom gland of rattlesnakes.

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