It turns out that cockroaches may be good for something other than stepping on. Scientists say that the "brains" of the cockroach, one of the globe's most tenacious survivors, are loaded with chemicals that can kill MRSA and other nasty bugs. And they want to enlist the insect in the fight to develop a new generation of more effective antibiotics.
"They must have some sort of defense against micro-organisms," says Simon Lee from Nottingham University, who has found nine chemicals that may help advance new antibiotics. "We think their nervous system needs to be continuously protected because if the nervous system goes down the insect dies. But they can suffer damage to their peripheral structures without dying."
According to the CDC, hospital-acquired infections are killing 15,000 patients in the U.S. each year and sicken another 90,000. As the current generation of antibiotics grows progressively weaker, as they must, researchers need to find new and more effective ways to combat the threat. And that fight has attracted a number of biotech companies.