Invention: Excrement antibiotic

Source of Article:  http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16021-invention-excrement-antibiotic.html

Muskrats are semi-aquatic rodents prized for their musk - a strong-smelling substance produced by specialised glands - which can be used in perfumes, cosmetics and medicines.

Now Ki Keun Kim and colleagues at Pusan National University, South Korea, have found that the animal produces another useful by-product.

The Pusan team claims that muskrat excrement contains a potent antibiotic that can kill the Salmonella bacteria that are a common cause of food poisoning, as well as the Vibrio bacteria that cause seafood-linked food poisoning.

It also proved effective against Staphylococcus aureus, a common cause of opportunistic infections, they say.

The patent also notes that experiments show the compound kills termites too, perhaps providing an environmentally friendly method of insect control.

Collecting the antibiotic requires drying the faeces, and using an organic solvent to extract the compound. However, the patent says nothing about the chemistry of the compound, or whether it might be safe to administer to humans.

Read the full muskrat excrement antibiotic patent application.

Since the 1970s, New Scientist has run a column uncovering the most exciting, bizarre or even terrifying new patented ideas - find the latest stories in our continually updated topic guide.

 

 

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