skip to main content

→ Top Stories:
Fracking
Safe Chemicals
Defending the Clean Air Act

Andrew Wetzler’s Blog

Alligators to the rescue

Andrew Wetzler

Posted June 2, 2008 in Health and the Environment, Saving Wildlife and Wild Places, U.S. Law and Policy

Tags:
, , , ,
Share | | |

Last week I linked to one good reason for saving endangered plants and wildlife: wonder.  But there are more practical reasons as well.  As I've noted before, not least of these reasons is the fact that many of the pharmaceuticals we take for granted (digitalis is one example) are derived from the other creatures with whom we share the earth.  The latest potential contributor to humanity's well being: the American alligator.

It turns out that alligator blood contains powerful peptides, a kind of protein, that scientists believe are an adaption to the need to fight off infection in a hot, wet, tropical environment (getting cut is an occupational hazard if you're an alligator).  These peptides have already shown promise in the lab for stopping infections caused by severe ulcers, burns and--most promisingly--antibiotic resistant "superbugs," such as MRSA.

All of which is somewhat ironic, of course, considering that we nearly drove alligators to extinction in the first half of the last century.  It wasn't until we protected alligators under a predecessors to the Endangered Species Act--a law which sees the wisdom in preserving all forms of life, no matter what its reputation--that alligators began to make a comeback. 

(Hat tip: ESAblawg).

Share | | |

About

Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

Feeds: Andrew Wetzler’s blog

Feeds: Stay Plugged In