Pandas are pretty much only alive as a species because nature doesn’t make animals more adorable. Let’s face it, if they were ugly, we would have wiped ‘em out without a second thought, because only the cute deserve to live for most people. Fortunately, in addition to being cuddly and porky, pandas also turn out to be packing a useful weapon in the fight against drug-resistant superbugs.
Specifically, there’s an antibody found only in the panda, cathelicin-AM, that pretty much beats up anything we can throw at it:
Discovered when researchers analyzed the creatures’ DNA… it has been found to kill both standard and drug-resistant strains of microbes and fungi. The compound also worked extremely quickly, killing off strains of bacteria in just an hour, while conventional antibiotics needed six.
In other words, pandas can resist pretty much any hideous microbe or fungus that attacks humans. In further good news, we will not need to start panda farms in order to get more of these potentially highly useful antibodies, as they can be synthesized in the lab. Also, running a panda farm where the ultimate goal is to suck out all their blood would probably not be a public-relations winner. Chickens are one thing, but running this through a slaughterhouse?
Yeah, we don’t imagine that selling. Also, pandas are notorious for being finicky about reproducing anyway: Most panda reproduction, as far as we know, takes place in captivity. We literally have to force them to make sweet panda love.
But, hey, they’re cute and now they’re potentially saving our lives. It was worth all those guilt trips from Sarah McLachlan!