The Healing Power of Cockroaches
One reason why you might reconsider stepping on the roach scurrying across your kitchen floor
Science Pictures Limited / Photo Researchers, Inc.
The next time you step on a cockroach, think about this: The tiny brain you just crushed is loaded with so many antibacterial molecules that it makes prescription drugs look like sugar pills.
For years, researchers have wondered how cockroaches manage to thrive, and now they finally have the answer. Scientists have identified nine antibiotic molecules in the brains of cockroaches and locusts that protect them from voracious, lethal bacteria. The implications of these findings cannot be overstated. Right now, even the most cutting-edge antibiotics can’t keep up with bacteria’s ability to constantly evolve and mutate.
Consider our ongoing battle with MRSA—a type of bacteria that flourishes in hospitals, locker rooms, and playgrounds. When a human comes into contact with MRSA, the bacteria burrow into the skin, forming a welt. If the victim is lucky, the welt turns into a painful abscess, which can be drained. But sometimes, the bacteria burrow deeper into the body, driving their way through muscles, joints, bones, and vital organs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), because scientists haven’t been able to develop a drug to treat this type of infection, in 2007 more people died from MRSA than from AIDS.
Researchers at Britain’s University of Nottingham found that when MRSA is pitted against the antibiotics in a cockroach brain, the bacteria don’t stand a chance. The cockroach molecules wipe out 90 percent of MRSA bacteria on contact.