Protein found in breast milk could be used to fight antibiotic resistance

Protein found in breast milk could be used to fight antibiotic resistance

Lactoferrin, a tiny fragment of a protein which is less than a nanometre in width, lends breast milk its anti-microbial properties

A certain protein found in breast milk could be used to destroy drug-resistant bacteria, a research by National Physical Laboratory and University College London shows. Lactoferrin, a component of a protein that is naturally present in breast milk, is so effective that it kills bacteria, fungi and viruses merely on contact, a report in The Guardian says. This will go a long way in fighting superbugs that are increasingly becoming drug-resistant and rendering antibiotics ineffective in the process.

It is a well-known fact that breast milk is crucial for the health of newborns and acts as a shield against various illnesses. Most doctors too advise that babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of their life in the interest of building their immunity.

This breakthrough study has found that lactoferrin, a tiny fragment of a protein which is less than a nanometre in width, lends breast milk its anti-microbial properties.

Once the fragment was identified, scientists re-engineered it into a virus-like capsule that can target and destroy specific bacteria without damaging surrounding human cells.  This will greatly aid in the fight against antibiotic resistance. If everything goes well, this protein will even help find cure for diseases that were hitherto considered incurable such as -- sickle-cell disease, cystic fibrosis and Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

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Written by

Avinash Iyer

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