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Medicine Science

Panda Blood May Hold Potent Assailant Against Superbugs 149

An anonymous reader writes "Pandas have long been the face of conservation efforts by environmental activists, but a recent finding may boost even further the need for pandas to evade extinction. Researchers have discovered a powerful antibody in panda blood that could serve as the next frontier in the fight against increasingly prevalent superbugs. The compound is called cathelicin-AM. Discovered when researchers analyzed the creatures' DNA, it has been found to kill fungus and bacteria. It is believed that the antibiotic is released to protect the animal from infections in the wild and, in studies, it has been found to kill both standard and drug-resistant strains of microbes and fungi. The compound also worked extremely quickly, killing off strains of bacteria in just an hour, while conventional antibiotics needed six."
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Panda Blood May Hold Potent Assailant Against Superbugs

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  • Gypsy Tears (Score:5, Funny)

    by WillgasM ( 1646719 ) on Monday December 31, 2012 @06:29PM (#42436667) Homepage
    Gypsy tears work way better, and at a fraction of the price.
    • Only problem with this is that in order to get Gypsy tears you generally have to manage to earn a Gypsy curse.
    • Really?

      Do you know how hard it is to make a Gypsy cry?

      It's easier to get a permit to throw cats off a building.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by arth1 ( 260657 )

        Do you know how hard it is to make a Gypsy cry?

        Not hard at all - just tell him how much it's going to cost to fix his caravan.

        Now a gypsy virgin's tears, on the other cheek...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Frodo: It's a pity Bilbo didn't kill him when he had the chance.
      Gandalf: Pity? It was pity that stayed Bilbo's hand. Many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. Even the very wise cannot see all ends. My heart tells me that Gollum has some part to play yet, for good or ill before this is over. The pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many.
      - Lord of the Rings

      Captcha: blossom

    • I heard tiger penis and bear gall bladder are good for stuff too but aren't there better things out there or can't we synthesize whatever's in those items?
      • Re:Gypsy Tears (Score:5, Informative)

        by EdIII ( 1114411 ) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @12:00AM (#42438769)

        I don't think they are suggesting the actual harvesting of Panda blood.

        Seriously. Jesus Fucking Christ. You could put a male and female Panda in there with a bottle of Wine, Viagra, and an ounce of the finest weed, and they still won't fuck . It's a well known fact that the species is on the verge of extinction simply because they don't have a tremendous urge to procreate.

        Any serious interest in this will be synthesized, and if it's required to be grown in an animal, we will probably use modified rabbits. If you look away for two seconds with those bastards, they already multiplied in the cage.

        • Of course, pandas are far too cute to kill for their blood, but some Asian cultures harvest bear and tigers for their parts.
        • I can't imagine why they might have trouble [] getting panda to procreate (at least between Canada and China).

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Won't work, I used to live with Gypsy and she has dry eyes (really).

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Cool, so now I just need to eat some Pandas and I won't ever get sick. Can you just see that spreading? It seems like the masses always get some lame, diluted, and plain wrong message out of this stuff. Goodbye Pandas...
    • If Panda tasted good, they'd never go extinct.
      Cows, chickens, and pre-bacon will be around until humans are extinct!

    • Wow - Pandas

      What do the Pandaren in World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria have to do with anything?

  • Well, if our useless lawmakers in Washington can't make big pharma offer competitive pricing maybe China can.

    • We could simply not require FDA approval before drugs are released to the market. That would result in much cheaper drugs, but it might have other consequences as well.
      • by EdIII ( 1114411 )

        Yeah, like a hell of lot more deaths. It would become far more expensive because insurance would be needed against the lawsuits.

        Pharma kills enough people each year apparently playing by the rules. Yet when some get caught doing it through gross negligence and fraud, they don't get punished because of the too big to fail theory in Washington.

        No, we need far more regulation of Pharma. With lengthy prison sentences for executives that are proven to knowingly put patients at risk.

      • by EdIII ( 1114411 )

        Ohhh, and I'm not opposed to the death sentence either.

        If a Pharma exec falsifies scientific reports and commits outright fraud that causes the death of dozens of people over the period of a few years, I see no difference between him and serial killer.

        Fry the bastard.

  • Yeah! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I cant wait to give this to my cattle in an uncontrolled fashon!

  • sounds like that deep blue sea movie

    • sounds like that deep blue sea movie

      Except pandas are mammals, haven't defied the laws of physics, done things that are bio-mechanically impossible, and certainly don't kill enough people on a regular basis.

      Plus I didn't see anything about LL Cool J cooking eggs in TFS.

      But other than that it's just like it.

      • by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Monday December 31, 2012 @08:11PM (#42437453) Journal
        Plus there's this: Panda walks into a bar, sits down, and orders a sandwich. He eats the sandwich, pulls out a gun, and shoots the waiter dead. He stands up to go and the bartender yells, "What the hell? You shot my waiter and now you're leaving without paying for that sandwich." The panda yells back over his shoulder, "I'm a Panda. Look it up." Sure enough, the bartender's Merriam-Webster said, "A tree-dwelling marsupial of Asian origin, characterized by distinctive black and white coloring. Eats shoots and leaves."
  • It seems as though we are rapidly approaching the day in which diseases have evolved to be resistant to any molecule we can come up with that doesn't also kill the host.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      And then pandas will most certainly go extinct!

      • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Monday December 31, 2012 @07:06PM (#42437033) Journal

        It may be that Pandas are not common enough for most microbes in the area to evolve immunities to its defenses. It's roughly comparable to turtle shells: they work against run-of-the-mill predators, but a few predators have evolved solutions for getting at the turtle meat and have made it a staple of their diet.

        Another analogy is a sports team that uses a non-traditional offense: too few teams are prepared for it such that it's effective. However, if it becomes wide-spread or championship-bound teams use it, then the competition has the chance or motivation to learn how to work around it, and the "special" offense loses its punch and is no longer special. It thus creates a kind of round-robbin rotation of strategies over time.

        Or as Shark Lincoln once said, you can fool some of the predators all the time, or all the predators some of the time, but you can't fool all of the predators all of the time.

  • Pandas are really, really tasty!

  • by bunyip ( 17018 ) on Monday December 31, 2012 @06:52PM (#42436877)

    Panda blood kills microbes. So, how soon before the black market starts selling powdered panda parts?

    • Panda furs are already worth $60,000 to $90,000 on the black market

    • by rjr162 ( 69736 )

      Hell now either Charlie Sheen wasn't too far off with his tiger blood or he'll have a new animal to freak out about...

  • by guttentag ( 313541 ) on Monday December 31, 2012 @06:54PM (#42436911) Journal
    So it turns out Panda DNA contains great biological secrets? No wonder they often refuse to mate in captivity, and when they do the offspring dies quickly. They're afraid we'll see them bestowing the magic on their young, and their secret will be out.
  • by Crypto Gnome ( 651401 ) on Monday December 31, 2012 @07:00PM (#42436981) Homepage Journal
    Humanity (collectively) has consistently proven itself to be incapable of long-range action (planning and forethought), even the rumor that fresh panda-blood will cure *anything* will be the nail in the coffin for these bamboo eating cuddly freaks.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I don't know, panda blood only kills superbugs. If it caused erections then they'd be doomed for sure.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 31, 2012 @11:11PM (#42438575)

      Humanity (collectively) has consistently proven itself to be incapable of long-range action (planning and forethought), even the rumor that fresh panda-blood will cure *anything* will be the nail in the coffin for these bamboo eating cuddly freaks.

      Humans have driven quite a few species to extinction, but with regards to Pandas? They would have been extinct already had it not been for us. There are two wildly successful evolutionary traits that a species can have: it can be tasty to humans (cattle, chicken, pork are not going excting anytime soon. That may suck for the individual, but the species survival is guaranteed), or it can be cute to humans (dogs and cats aren't going to go extinct anytime soon). Pandas fall into the second category.

      That creature's sole diet consists of a bamboo that grows in a very limited area, so they can't expand their habitat. The bamboo is very low in nutrients, so they need to eat constantly. The female's window of reproduction lasts only two days a year. Assuming they find a partner in that small window, male pandas often can't succeed in copulating. They don't instinctively know how to mate, and early captivity pandas who never saw mating in the wild, would try to hump females ears and feet. They actually show videos of mating pandas to pandas in captivity to help them out with that. Also to try to get them in the mood. They have an extremely low interest in sex. So, we feed viagra to those captive pandas (I shit you not). Also, their penis size is disproportionally small, which results in difficulties with insertion (yes, that small. It's 1/4 of an inch).

      Assuming a successful pregnancy and birth, it turns out the female only has enough milk for one cub, because unlike other bears, they do not have fat stores that can be converted into large quantities of milk. So the female will choose one of the cubs, and allow any others to die. In captivity, if multiple cubs are born, the cubs are fed some cow milk to supplement their diet, and they switch off the cub with the mother periodically, so the mother thinks she's only taking care of one. The cubs are born toothless and blind, and in the wild the mother leaves the cub alone, defenseless, for 3 to 4 hours every day so she can go feed.

      It is amazing that the species survived this long. The most fascinating thing about this article is that pandas actually have something which is evolutionarily advantageous. And you don't need to worry, they're not going anywhere. Now they're not just cute, they're also useful. We'll continue helping this weird creature breed as a result. Now at least I think there's a good reason to do so. My previous stance was that anything this ill-fitted to survive really shouldn't. Extinction of species is perfectly natural. The only thing we need to be careful of is to not cause those extinctions ourselves. We've essentially gotten powerful and numerous enough to do some serious damage, so we need to watch our hunting numbers, or the destruction of entire habitats. Pandas are one example that is simply not our fault, though.

    • Geez, RTFA. They've already synthesized the critical chemical.
    • The panda is the Chinese national symbol. They have political reasons to do anything possible to save it. It is way better conserved than the tigers that will eventually go extinct, if the rate of their decrease will go on.
  • Wow, we need this right now to feed all of our livestock. Maximize profits!
  • Ok, so we've isolated the compound. Why do we need the Pandas now?

  • I believe that should be cathelicidin-AM. I also believe we have found another excuse to hasten the extinction of the panda.

  • Another antibiotic. Any guesses on how long it will take for resistances to evolve?
    • As soon as it is prescribed for the wrong reasons, and as soon as patients do not take the full prescription. I'd give it a few days after coming on the market.
      • by ae1294 ( 1547521 )

        As soon as it is prescribed for the wrong reasons, and as soon as patients do not take the full prescription. I'd give it a few days after coming on the market.

        No I take a random handful of antibiotic's every day not because I need them but to fuck it up for the rest of you. As far as I'm concerned I'm doing nature a favor and sure I'm also ding it for the Lulz but mostly because people are a fucking plague especially you fucking slashdot fuckers who all think you're special little gifts from god because you can code in Gaylord BASIC or whatever the jerk-off language of the week is.

        Go have another triple latte and enjoy the cat urine I put in it for you timothy. D

  • The compound also worked extremely quickly, killing off strains of bacteria in just an hour, while conventional antibiotics needed six.

    Will those strains of bacteria also evolve six times quicker due to the greater selection pressure?

  • So the Chinese are well known for their herbal and alternative medicines in which they consume various plants, herbs, minerals and yes animals for all sorts of cures....

    Now they're being told that their national symbol is a source of medical healing...

    What do they do?

    • It used to be the case that killing a panda in China would get you the death penalty []. But then the law was changed 1997 and now it's a measly 10 years in jail.
      • by PPH ( 736903 )

        So, we'll export them and kill them here.

        Death penalty for killing tigers? Watch the Chinese scream about not being able to get their boner medicine.

  • Time to kill a whole lot of pandas and collect their blood to extract the antibiotics.

  • Not Antibodies (Score:5, Informative)

    by Joe Torres ( 939784 ) on Monday December 31, 2012 @07:14PM (#42437105)

    Cathelicin-AM is an antimicrobial peptide not an antibody.

    I just skimmed the paper (abstract: []), but it seems that the group was the first to find out that pandas produce this type of antimicrobial peptide (they are produced by other mammals and it seems that the sequence is similar to that of dogs). The peptide seems to be effective against multiple types of bacteria (Gram positive and Gram negative) and a couple strains of fungi. The researchers only tested the peptide in vitro, so it probably isn't known if purified peptide will be effective in vivo (they reported that it showed little lysis of human red blood cells though).

    TL/DR: Don't pressure your doctor into giving you panda blood when you get sick.

  • I've seen people argue that letting things go extinct because they can't compete with man made environmental destruction, hunting, ect. is no problem because it is the natural order and such species do not serve a purpose. Funny how things turn out.

    • imagine the irony if human blood became a valuable commodity
      • by Anonymous Coward

        It's already important.

        • important yes, but commodities are bought and sold, not donated
          • Donations are not the only source of blood. And if you think hospitals and patients get it for free, you're in for a big surprise if you ever need it.
            • of course hospitals and patients don't get it for free... my point was that if human blood products were traded like medical products made from panda blood (as in on the open market), it would be a very dangerous world indeed
  • consuming Pandas milk as well to be quite the natural elixir.

    --Roy E. Brisby, CEO
    Brisby Land.

  • (nt)

  • Son it was announce on Slashdot on Monday December 31, @02:27PM

  • Just remember, in order to maximize the speed at which bacteria adapt, only give this out by itself, and not in combination with other antibiotics, so nothing has to have two or more miraculous and simultaneous adaptations.

    One adaptation is all we can reasonably expect, so make sure it's only used by itself lest bacteria never adapt.

  • "i know... lets cut them up and see what we can use their blood for... oh wow the blood can be a commodity for use in medicine... poachers sure don't have any reason to kill them now! this is pure genius"
  • Not just Pandas (Score:4, Informative)

    by SurlyJest ( 1044344 ) on Monday December 31, 2012 @09:29PM (#42438017)
    This isn't likely to have much effect on the survival of the Panda species - for one, a peptide is probably fairly easy to synthesize or produce in some other living system via genetic engineering if it is worth doing so.

    Most of all, though - this isn't especially new or restricted to Pandas. Peptide cathelicidins are apparently found in every species they've been looked for, including at least some plants. See [] for a summary search on this.

    It remains to be seen if this is a particularly potent member of the general class or just another more or less interesting data point.

  • I'm reminded of the fact that komodo dragons have a strong anti-bacterial chemical due to the biome in their mouths which is used to infect prey so they'll get sick and die.

    obviously a specialized case.

    as deadly as bacterial infections have been to humans throughout history, it's somewhat confusing that we don't have a more potent biochemical arsenal.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I'm reminded of the fact that komodo dragons have a strong anti-bacterial chemical due to the biome in their mouths which is used to infect prey so they'll get sick and die

      Actually we still don't know why they aren't affected by the bacteria in their saliva, and they do actually have venom.

  • Panda blood works OK, by I prefer golden lion tamarind placenta, with a dash of powdered black rhino horn and an eye of newt chaser.

  • 1. We manufacture this cathelicin-AM , to create very powerful antibiotics
    2. People start taking the antibiotics, specificaly to counter resistant super bacteria infections
    3. cathelicin-AM kills of all the super bacteria, except some super super bacteria , which now has free reign since all the competition is destroyed
    4. cathelicin-AM resistant bacteria kill off 90 % of the panda population

  • a few things (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rutulian ( 171771 ) on Monday December 31, 2012 @10:30PM (#42438377)

    The summary and medicaldaily article are fairly horrid, so here is the abstract [] of the research article. The full article is also available for those who have access.

    Misstatements of the posted summary/article,
    1) Discovery is of a new antibiotic (an antimicrobial peptide), not antibody.
    2) Statement in the article: "They cause much less drug resistance of microbes than conventional antibiotics.", referring to antimicrobial peptides is a ridiculous statement not substantiated by anything.
    3) The "kinetics" of the antimicrobial activity, as published, is not particularly useful for determining efficacy in the clinic. Since the drug they compared against, clindamycin, is completely different in every way from their peptide, it doesn't really say anything at all. They probably screened a number of antibiotics for this "test" and cherry-picked this result to highlight their find.
    4) Use of the term "conventional antibiotic" is misleading. This is a new member of a class of antibiotics (antimicrobial peptides) that are relative newcomers to the field, but is otherwise just another antibiotic. It is not a new mechanism of action, biosynthetic origin, class of molecule, or anything like that. In other words, it is about as conventional as they come, but perhaps useful because we do and will continue to need new antibiotics.

    For anybody who is interested, here is an open access [] article on the subject of newly discovered mammalian antimicrobial peptides as potential new antibiotics.

  • Yes, it will work, therefore it will be given on large scale to cattle, and it will be done whether cattle is sick or not, because it is easier to just add it to cattle food. Fungus and bacteria in cattle gut will become resistant, and will move to human. This is what happened for previous antibiotics.
  • If this is true, (or even just believed to be true,) then I feel sorry for the forthcoming generations of pandas who'll literally be being hung out to dry by this news. Poor bloody pandas.

  • Especially mixed with a little vodka!
  • Just can't get over the blue skin. Blue is OK on blueberries, not meat.
  • I completely misread that as 'piranha blood' and I said, "well, no doubt"
  • ...panda's sexual habits when cured with their blood derived antibiotics... :D

  • My Sister's Keeper becomes My Sister's Pandakeeper?

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel