You know that TV crocodile hunting team Steve and Terri Irwin? Well those two can expect some competition in days to come. Scientists in northern Australia have been collecting blood from crocodiles in hopes of saving humans.
Studies in the late 90s showed that several antibodies in croc blood killed penicillin-resistant bacteria. More recently it has been discovered that crocodiles? immune systems can kill the HIV virus. American scientist Mark Merchant says the reptiles ?tear limbs off each other, [but] they heal up very rapidly and normally, almost always without infection.? Aussie scientist Adam Britton adds: ?The crocodile has an immune system which attaches to bacteria and tears it apart and it explodes. It?s like putting a gun to the head of the bacteria and pulling the trigger.?
These two scientists draw blood from wild and captive crocs, saltwater and freshwater species. After capturing the donor, they strap its jaws and go for a vein. The vein, Britton says, is ?called a sinus, right behind the head, and it?s very easy just to put a needle in the back of the neck and hit this sinus and then you can take a large volume of blood very simply.?
It?ll be years, of course, before croc blood is ready for human use. Their antibodies are so powerful they may have to be diluted. But this is pretty remarkable on two fronts. Once again, proof that embryonic stem cells aren?t the only ?miracle? cure for all that ails us. And more importantly, understanding how crocodiles heal points to a pretty intelligent design in nature. Now when are the animal rights people going to start complaining to stop all of this?