WHILE on a mission to save the Tasmanian devil from extinction, Devil Ark conservation facility has found a new weapon in the fight against superbugs harmful to humans.
Researchers from the facility discovered Tasmanian devil milk contained peptides that could kill some of man kind’s most deadly drug resistant bacterial and fungal infections, including skin infections such as golden staph.
As a result of this discovery, Devil Ark has now provided the milk to Sydney universities for research, which have found the new weapon in the fight against superbugs.
Devil Ark general manager Tim Faulkner, and the conservation team at Devil Ark were responsible for milking several female devils while they were lactating to provide the milk for this study.
“It’s truly rewarding to be a part of the process for this research, but also very exciting as conservationists that the animal we’re trying to save from extinction could save human lives,” Mr Faulkner said.
“Milking a Tasmanian devil is quick and stress free. Towards the end of lactation, when the young are suckling periodically, we gently massage the female devils mammary glands then with a long stroke of the teat the milk flows freely and is captured.”
Mr Faulkner said the process was very similar to how a cow was milked, but on a much smaller scale.
“I can even say I have tried Tasmanian devil milk and its warm and much thicker than cow’s milk,” he said.
The devil milk peptides come from a family of antimicrobials called cathelicidins, which act as natural antibiotics. All animals have them, but Tasmanian devils have six varieties, while humans have just one.
Devil Ark, through the process of providing future and hope for the Tasmanian devil, has now contributed to science in a profound way as it could present future hope for the Tasmanian devil as a species, if mankind becomes reliant on it.