Scientists recently reported on a disgusting new idea for human health: The ground-up brains of cockroaches, they say, may help fight infectious diseases.
To most of us, not even a spoonful of sugar is going to help that medicine go down.
Cockroaches are insects with simple, small brains. But tangled up in those tiny heads are chemical compounds that can kill E. coli and MRSA, two harmful bacteria.
Some kinds of E. coli live peacefully in the intestines of human beings. But when a person accidentally eats food or drinks water contaminated with E. coli, look out. She can become violently ill. E. colican cause vomiting, diarrhea, respiratory problems and pneumonia. One type of E. coli can also cause meningitis.
MRSA can be bad, too. MRSA stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, which means it’s a type of Staphylococcus aureus that can’t be killed by the antibiotic methicillin, and even other antibiotic medicines like penicillin or amoxicillin. This tiny germ can cause skin infections — which can become big problems in hospitals. Since it’s so difficult for doctors to treat MRSA, ground-up cockroach brains could help a lot of people.
Simon Lee and Naveed Kahn are two microbiologists who worked on this study, and they both do research at Nottingham University in the United Kingdom. A biologist is a scientist who studies living things, and a microbiologists studies very small living things — like bacteria.
The scientists decided to study insects after noticing an interesting pattern. Some soldiers who came back from the Middle East were sick with strange infections — but locusts from the same areas were infection-free. (Locusts are types of grasshoppers.) The scientists started to wonder how insects that live in unhygienic places manage to avoid infection.
“Some of these insects live in the filthiest places ever known to man,” Khan told