Could cockroaches be an unlikely source of natural antibiotics? Most people think of cockroaches as being “dirty”, but new research shows they may be valuable in the battle against resistant bacterial infections that no longer respond to standard antibiotics. They may also help to treat more common bacterial infections – without the side effects of conventional antibiotics.
Can Cockroaches Kill Bacteria Naturally?
Researchers at the University of Nottingham’s School of Veterinary Medicine recently discovered that cockroaches and some insects have chemicals in their brain that are toxic to infection-causing bacteria. So powerful are these insect brain chemicals that they can wipe out bacteria that conventional antibiotics can’t touch.
In one test, they were able to destroy more than 90% of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, which is resistant to almost all standard antibiotics. Even better, they did this without damaging normal, healthy cells.
Why Would Insects Be a Source of Antibiotics?
Because they do live in such dirty areas, these eight-legged creatures have developed natural chemicals to kill bacteria – and help protect themselves against disease. This source of natural antibiotics may not only benefit insects but humans as well.
An Alternative Way to Treat Infection?
Conventional antibiotics have become less effective in recent years as more bacteria develop resistance to them – due to overuse. Some studies show that up to half of all prescribed antibiotics are unnecessary, and instead of having benefits, they add to the problem of antibiotic resistance. Antibiotics are only effective for treating bacterial infections – and have no effect on illnesses caused by viruses.
Most antibiotics have side effects – some of which can be serious. Not only that, but they wipe out good bacteria that protect against bad bacteria and fungi. This increases the risk of yeast infections and stomach upset.
Insects as a Source of Antibiotics: The Bottom Line?
Those creepy creatures that crawl around on kitchen counters could have some benefit after all. Scientists are hoping to harvest insect brain chemicals to make better antibiotics to treat infection with fewer side effects. Could cockroaches offer a solution to antibiotic resistance? Stay tuned for more developments in the battle to safely treat antibiotic-resistant infections – and put cockroaches to good use.
Eurekalert.org.”Insect brains are rich stores of new antibiotics”