-> Above link died. Here is a similar article: Panda Blood Could be Source of Super Drug
Ok, besides there being a typo in the title, I liked the article. During my undergraduate studies, my lab would analyze and criticize scientific articles. Many of the guys in my lab were opposed to one of the articles another undergrad picked out because it was about pandas. They couldn’t see why pandas were actually important. Pandas were only still alive because people thought they were cute. Let’s be honest, the graduate students have a point. Pandas don’t really do much except eat bamboo. I guess one could argue that bamboo is invasive and pandas are doing the world a favor by being really cute sheep. BUT, for the most part, the grad students were right. So, I’m glad I found this article that proposes that pandas have some important biological qualities other than being ridiculously cute.
This article says that the primary component in giant panda blood is Cathelicidin-AM. The compound can kill the same bacteria SIX times faster than other well-known antibiotics. This might stem from the bacteria being drug-resistant, but it’s still impressive. Drug-resistant bacteria is a growing issue today, and it’s more than likely that bacteria will eventually become immune to the charms of the panda’s power as well. However, it’s a good step to show that we don’t know all the potential benefits that animals and biodiversity have in store for us. Hence, it’s important to try to keep as much of nature intact and healthy as possible. I thought the only downside to this article was that the author thought it was a good thing that they don’t have to try to increase the panda population because scientists learned how to synthesize the compound artificially. Hopefully, scientists/drug companies will put some proceeds towards expanding the panda populations because of this discovery. I just hope science doesn’t get too comfortable with what they are discovering. I’m afraid that, when scientists think they have learned/gained all they can from a certain species, that species will become dispensable.