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Scorpion Venom Heals Drug-Resistant Bacteria Infection

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t may sound like snake oil, but a new study suggests scorpion venom contains a substance that can fend off drug-resistant bacteria, including the deadly MRSA.

Drug resistance is increasingly rendering our antibiotic arsenal ineffective against bacteria. According to a CDC study, MRSA caused 36 percent of staphylococcal infections in U.S. hospital intensive-care units in 1992, and as much as 64 percent of infections in 2003. But new research in mice suggests a solution may be hiding right under our feet.

Many peptides (short strings of amino acids) found in many plants and animals have the ability to kill bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites. Virologists from China’s Wuhan University took a peptide from the venom of a scorpion and modified it to strengthen its antibacterial activity. The modified peptide killed off both S. aureus and E. coli bacteria, and healed skin infections in mice, the study reported July 5 in the journal PLoS ONE.

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