Fish mucus shows promise as antibiotic, even against superbugs

After decades of antibiotic overuse, researchers are open to exploring new options. What promising antibiotics have experts rolled up their sleeves for? The slimy mucus that coat fish.

According to Tech Times, the mucus actually protects the fish from harmful pathogens in their surroundings.

A student taking part in the slime-seeking research, Molly Austin, told the news outlet that fish live in a “complex environment.”

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Their bodies have to protect them from the bacteria and viruses they have continuous contact with every day.

So far, the study’s experts have targeted young fish caught in Southern California because of the youth’s weaker immunity, HealthDay reported. The idea is that these fish must have stronger natural walls against pathogens to keep them healthy.

Researchers said they’ve identified nearly four dozen strains of bacteria in the mucus of 17 fish species.

The findings were presented at the American Chemical Society’s spring 2019 meeting in Florida. However, keep in mind that research is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

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Researchers view this area as a prime candidate for discovering new, natural antibacterial sources.

These bacteria have the potential to fight strong diseases and infections, such as MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), E. coli and colon cancer.

MRSA is a type of staph bacteria that live on the skin and are normally harmless. However, these antibiotic-resistant bacteria can infect the body through open cuts and wounds.

Close contact and shared equipment increase the risk, such as in hospital, school or athletic settings. The CDC estimates that 5 percent of hospital patients carry MRSA on the skin.

Still, the research is just beginning and could take years to develop a new antibiotic from it. The authors need further studies on the individual bacteria and chemicals that contribute to the fish’s antibacterial abilities, according to Tech Times.

Until then, antibiotic resistance remains a problem.

According to the CDC, 2 million Americans get infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria every year. About 23,000 die from it, and experts deem the growing number of resistant bacteria one of the world’s most pressing public health issues.

Modern medicine relies on the ability to control bacteria. Advances would be stifled or halted if an antibiotic-resistant epidemic were to ensue.

Not many new antibiotics have been developed since the 1990s, according to the CDC’s timeline. Yet scientists have identified more resistant bacteria during that period.

Promising options like this one along with other studies in development give hope for the battle against dangerous pathogens.

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To combat antibiotic resistance in the meantime, the CDC advises patients to never accept antibiotics for the cold or flu, which are caused by viruses. You can also ask a doctor for other methods of healing or taking care of bacterial infections.

When antibiotics are necessary, take the full amount prescribed without skipping doses to avoid creating more resistant bacteria. Together, new research and more defined parameters for antibiotics could dissipate any potential harm.