By now, we are all aware of the amazing benefits of breastmilk for babies, but what if we said it could potentially cure thousands of people suffering with incurable illnesses?
This is what scientists are claiming this week, after discovering that part of a protein in breastmilk could be used to destroy certain types of drug-resistant bacteria.
Researchers from the UK’s National Physical Laboratory and University College London have revealed that lactoferrin (which helps to protect newborns from diseases in the first months of life) can actually kill bacteria, fungi and some viruses on mere contact.
The team then took the part of the lactoferrin protein that gives it its anti-microbial properties, and they used it to create a capsule engineered to target bacteria and damage it on contact – all without affecting the surrounding cells.
Explaining the significance of the finding, researcher Hasan Alkassem who worked on the study said: “The challenge was not just to see the capsules, but to follow their attack on bacterial membranes. The result was striking: the capsules acted as projectiles porating the membranes with bullet speed and efficiency.”
This is particularly good news amid reports of the rise of antibiotic-resistant illnesses, something which England’s Chief Medical Officer Sally Davies acknowledged today, saying: “The science is crackable. It’s doable.”