Researchers Hope Gator Blood Can Help Battle Infections In Humans - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

04/10/08 - Louisiana

Researchers Hope Gator Blood Can Help Battle Infections In Humans

They live in one of the nastiest nooks in nature, but still, alligators tend to survive even under the roughest conditions. Now, scientists are studying how gator blood can help humans. 

They live down in the murky waters of the Louisiana lakes and bayous. Alligators are known for their aggressive attitude. Their stocky shells and meaty core are often hunted as wild game. Lately, however, scientists have found these reptiles have an interesting make-up and despite the fact they live in what many would call a horrid habitat, these gators have a striking way of surviving. "They get into a lot of fights and tussles and get bruises and lost limbs. But, they rarely ever get infected," says Lancia Darville.

Darville is an LSU chemistry doctoral student. She and a researcher from McNeese State University in Lake Charles have found the secret runs through the gator's vicious veins. Now, alligator blood is being used to study and possibly fight infections in human beings. "I see this as a means of making possible drugs for us to combat certain things like HIV and other bacterial diseases," she says.

In preliminary studies, when 23 different strands of bacteria were exposed to alligator serum, all 23 were successful in fighting off the germs. Darville says chemists are attempting to create that same compound to ward off viruses in humans. "They're infusing chemical trials so they can be ready for us to ingest or use as creams and pills."

However, Darville warns that not everything in the gator's make-up is safe for us. She says researchers have found that some levels of the alligator serum can be toxic in humans. So now, it's their jobs to take what they found in the swamp and build a compound to perfect it. Darville says pills and topical creams could be tested in clinical trials in the next seven to ten years.

Reporter:  Cheryl Mercedes, WAFB 9NEWS

Story and video courtesy of WAFB 9NEWS.



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