Study looks at healing properties in alligator blood

It's not going to make the big beasts lurking in South Florida's canals seem any nicer, but new research suggests a little alligator might be good for human health.

Scientists in Louisiana recently found the blood of the American alligator such a potent killer of bacteria, including some resistant to existing antibiotics, that they are hoping to use it to develop new medicines.

Researchers at Louisiana State University and McNeese State University stress it will take years to tell whether reptile extracts would even work in the human bloodstream. Some skeptics, including experts at the University of Florida, aren't enthused about the prospects for pharmaceutical gator aid.

But study co-author Mark Merchant, an assistant professor of biochemistry at McNeese State, sees promise in decoding the alligator's primitive but powerful immune system. He believes the reptiles, which date to the twilight of the dinosaur age 80 million years ago, have built biological defenses against infections to survive mangling and maiming caused by territorial and mating battles.

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