The Economist: The 48 uses of dragon’s blood. March 2, 2017
Summary: Two scientists from George Mason University have just recently discovered 48 new types of potential AMPs (antimicrobial peptides) that have never been seen before in Komodo dragon blood. The goal is to be able to do more testing on these newly discovered peptides and hopefully use these peptides as a base for new antibiotics for infections.
Connections: In class we have talked a lot about antimicrobial resistance and how much of a problem it is. The scientists conducting this study used spectrometers, they must have done DNA testing, and also have done some type of physiology testing to discover these peptides.
Analysis: One reason I enjoy The Economist is because it is a source that reports on EVERYTHING, and sometimes articles are very short and get straight to the point so they are easy to read fast. But for this article and articles about science short is not always good. This article needs more information. It leaves you on a cliffhanger! The idea of gaining new medicines possibly from Komodo dragon’s is incredibly interesting, I can not wait for a more scientific article to be published about this study. But thanks to The Economist we now know that this research is being conducted.
Question: The article says that the Komodo dragon’s blood may be useful because the animal is so poisonous. What are other poisonous animals do you think could potentially be studied for this same type of experiment?
2 Comments for “A2: The 48 uses of dragon’s blood”
I definitely agree that this article needs more information, it seemed to provide a lot of umbrella statements without going into too much detail. This article was really intriguing, though, because I never would have expected Komodo dragons to have beneficial peptides. There are a lot of reptiles and poisonous animals and I think that all of them could be looked at because they need to have protections from the venom they carry in case another individual from the same species attacks a peer, and it is these defenses that scientists should examine due to their potential benefits for drug-resistant pathogens.
I liked this article, I think that it reported well on what is known. It seems that this topic is still emerging and there is limited research done about it. It will be interesting to follow this story as more work is done to understand how we can harness AMP’s in medicine. I also enjoyed how the writer compared this research to myths surrounding the value of dragon blood.
It seems that all species are capable of producing AMP’s, but the efficacy of medical use from a species’ AMP is more successful in some organisms. The first poisonous animal that came to my mind were frogs. I found that magainins ( a type of AMP) are found in the African clawed frog. However, it doesn’t appear that this has to do with the animal being poisonous. Instead, they have come about from needing a protection from fungi, which can decimate frog populations. There has also been some research done about making synthetic copies of magainins to possibly use in medical practices.