A lot of people are scared of alligators and with good reason – their teeth are sharp! Scientists, though, are interested in the creatures' powerful immune systems, which help them to recover from injuries sustained in territorial combat with other gators. They see gators as a potentially valuable source of powerful new antibiotics that could be used to fight infections associated with diabetic ulcers and severe burns, as well as superbugs.
In 2008, a study by researchers from McNeese State University and Louisiana State University found that proteins extracted from gators' white blood cells were capable of killing a wide range of bacteria that threaten humans, including the notoriously drug-resistant MRSA [source: Marsh and Bernstein]. McNeese researchers now are trying to replicate one particular alligator blood protein that reportedly attaches, Velcro-like, to the surface of a microbe and then tears a hole in its outer wall to kill it [source: Giovinco].