Spare a thought for the maligned monitor-it could save all our lives

courtesy of pixabay

When we in the west think of Thailand, most of us can muster little beyond marvellous beaches, Singha beer and slightly risque cabaret shows in Bangkok. A lamentable ignorance on our part; no doubt that country has many cultural treasures with which to educate the world. None more than the fact that apparently the worst insult you can proffer in the Thai language is to call someone a Monitor Lizard.

Herpetologists among us will recognise monitor lizards as belonging to the family Varanidae, a widespread and successful group of reptiles spread across vast regions of the warmer parts of the globe. They play a humble but essential role in many ecosystems, and in towns often function as rat catcher and rubbish scavenger in chief. They have one star member; the giant Komodo Dragon, biggest lizard on the planet, and one even capable of sustaining a cameo on James Bond films (Skyfall 2012).

But there is hope that the Dragon may be able to do even more for us yet. Teams of researchers have been investigating certain proteins in the animals’ blood that appears to protect them from bacteria. Dragons seem to collect the most horrendous bacterial fauna in their mouths, mainly due to their diet of carrion and sewage water. Now it seems that these proteins could form the basis of new treatments to protect us against superbugs even such as Staphylococcus aureus, the fons et origio of MRSA.

We’re linking to several pieces today: Peter Dockrill in Science Alert, the BBC and Medical News Today. Before you say oh, Phuket, it only goes to show: be careful whom you insult-they might save your life one day!

#monitorlizard #thailand #antibioticresistance #mrsa #komododragon #blood

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s