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Did You Know?: Alligator Blood for Health

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Air date: December 28, 2008

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Did you Know? is presented by Wishard Health Services, becoming Eskenazi Health in 2014.




This segment originally aired April 20, 2008.

Alligator blood could help doctors and scientists combat dangerous infections in humans, those "superbugs" we've heard about.

That's the word out of McNeese State University in Louisiana. Researchers there noticed that alligators living in Louisiana's bacteria-infested swamps never seem to get infected. This despite the fact that the gators often have open wounds and torn limbs from fighting over food and territory.

The researchers tried to infect the alligators' blood with 23 different types of bacteria. None of the germs survived, leading the scientists to believe that alligator blood has special bacteria-fighting proteins lacking in human blood. Or, gator blood may simply have more protective proteins than we do.

In any case, the researchers hope that whatever’s protecting alligators from infection could lead to new drugs used to fight so-called superbugs that resist antibiotics. Up against drugs derived from alligator blood proteins, even superbugs may not stand a chance.

And now you know.

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