Animals Have Been Proved Potential for Improving Human Health
According to recent media reports, referring to the drug development, people may immediately
think of mass scientists who wear a white lab coat standing in front of the table to do experiments,
with a variety of test tubes and petri dishes. However, many animals have made an important
contribution for the development of modern new drugs, including antibody drugs, eptifibatide,
APIs, and so on.
In 1929, Alexander Fleming accidentally discovered penicillin in an accident, and then the
discovery marks the beginning of a new era of medicine, within this period the emergence of
many antibiotics displaying a new insight for pneumonia, scarlet fever and previous deadly
diseases as well. Whereas, for the animal world, there is nothing new.
“From the simplest hydra to humans, every animal can produce antimicrobial peptides”, says Dr.
Michael Zaslove, professor of surgery at the Transplant Institute of Ge orgetown University School
of Medicine. “They protect people and make people to get along with the bacte ria.” He has
learned that animals can use antibacterial agents to protect themselves fro m his personal
experience of a “lucky accident”. In the 80s of the 20th century, Zaslove, in the United States
National Institutes of Health, used frog eggs for research and found that female frogs after the
removal of the ovaries wouldn’t be infected with the abdominal suture, even if they were placed in
“These animals have a very high concentration of antimicrobial peptides an d
DOTA-(Tyr3)-Octreotatein their skin”, says Zaslove. These compounds have evolved from life
on Earth, and they are often more effective than conventional antibiotics because they are mainly
against the microbial membranes, rather than bacterial proteins and enzymes. For fungi and
bacteria, altering the membrane to produce resistance is more difficult than changing the protein.
In this regard, the case where the body does not respond to or react strongly to bacteria includes
Crohn’sdisease and cysticfibrosis.
Zaslove has made great strides in three clinical trials of diabetes on the basis of antifungal proteins
found in the skin of frogs. These patients have ulcers caused by diabetes on their feet. Zaslove
tried to find whether a topical ointment was effective in treating this infection through his own
experiments; it was a success finally but the FDA asked them to experiment in the ointment with
frogs that had not been used in the study. He is preparing for further testing but he has said that a
private company has promised to cover the cost of future experiments. It’s a new state-of-the-art
drug and will make a huge step forward in drug discovery.
The Brazilian arrowhead, also known as Agkistrodon acutus, is the basis for the development of
the first angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors to treat hypertension a nd congestive
heart failure. Researchers have isolated a factor called bradykinin peptide from snake venom and
found it to be involved in a class of molecules that inhibit angiotensin-converting enzyme.
Involved scientists have noted that snake-like animals need their prey to be still. In the case of
snake venom, lowering blood pressure may be a useful asset. Snakes need their prey to stand still
while swallowing and digesting prey. The bradykinin-enhancing peptide factor has been
eventually developed as a captopril drug such as desmopressin for the treatmen t of hypertension,
heart problems, and renal function in patients with diabetes.
However, scientific discovery is much more than that. Recently, a new kind of sponge polyketone
that can inhibit protein synthesis can effectively kill cancer cells. Developing a fundamental
understanding of the links between animals and the chemicals could be necessary, which requires
further research, testing and mass trials, enabling to develop new and e ffective therapy.
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