Mother’s milk from the marsupials known as Tasmanian devils could help the global fight against increasingly deadly “superbugs” which resist antibiotics, Australian researchers said on Tuesday. Superbugs are bacteria which cannot be treated by current antibiotics and other drugs, with a recent British study saying they could kill up to 10 million people globally by 2050.
Scientists at the University of Sydney found that peptides in the marsupial’s milk killed resistant bacteria, including methicillin-resistant golden staph bacteria and enterococcus that is resistant to the powerful antibiotic vancomycin. The researchers turned to marsupials like the devil — which carry their young in a pouch after birth to complete their development — because of their biology. The underdeveloped young have an immature immune system when they are born, yet survive growth in their mother’s bacteria-filled pouch.