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Student Gazette

Crocodile blood could aid study of disease resistance
Friday, May 14, 2010

Charlie Sickler is a seventh-grader at Schenectady Christian School

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Since the 1980s, scientists have been studying crocodile blood and have realized its immune system is very strong. The crocodile’s immune system attacks and kills viruses and bacteria, leaving its body healthy and ready for more. Everyone has heard of HIV (AIDS), cancer and newly added to the deadly list that kills hundreds of people per year, the H1N1 flu virus. The cure to these diseases could be in the veins of the crocodiles we have learned to avoid.

The reason behind the crocodile being immune to so many things is that the crocodile’s immune system attacks the microbes that could cause infection or sickness right away. Sometimes our immune system attacks the wrong target of sickness because it can’t “see” clearly (which develops allergies). A crocodile’s immune system is much more skilled than a human’s immune system because humans try to avoid certain things that make them sick. A human’s immune system also gets used to the things we give it. For instance, boiling water out of streams or purifying it after getting it out of lakes or reserves or freezing meat and things that may become moldy or rotten. In Africa, the people’s immune system have become used to the polluted water, and even though lots of Africa’s people die from the sicknesses in the water, many survive. Animals, on the other hand, don’t preserve their food or purify their water. They kill an animal and eat it right away. They drink their water right of streams or lakes, and they couldn’t care less. When crocodiles get in a fight, they usually lose a limb or have gaping wounds all over their bodies. Studies have proved that these wounds rarely become infected.

The crocodile is a fierce creature that could hold a powerful antibiotic. We will have to pay the price trying to get these antibiotics, but it will be worth it. Someday, we could make antibiotics for people in the hospital with wounds that could become infected, to treat people with AIDS, to kill the deadly cancer of suffering people or to cure a simple cold or flu fast.

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