Its been a lot, lot longer than 4 years that this research is going on; an e-mail from the original researchers, well one of them, in Australia follows at the end of this.
For an overview, see:
Peptide antibiotics isolated from crocodilians and other animals
who demonstrate immunity to infection do not, in theory, provide immunity per se but behave as any antibiotic. They are easily syntheiszed as well. This company may be subverting the need for a prescription for such drugs (e.g. crocodillin, magainins) even if they were available which they are not, by claiming that the animal's enzyme triggers production of such peptides in people. There do not seem to be any clinical trials or direct evidence that this has been confirmed so this exploitation of an otherwise mostly true set of circumstances may be yet another unregulated, unproven attempt to sell a product whose purported value has not been clinically proven. I would like to see the clinical studies that back up their testimonial evidence. It would also be nice to show that the enzyme in question actually provokes manufacture of crocodile antibiotic peptides in human beings! Why do I doubt this? ALSO: The researchers who discovered crocodillin make no such claims for this drug (see below) which they admit they haven't even fully sequenced:
The excerpts and statements on their own website are also true, standing in isolation:
from the original researchers in an e-mail found on the internet:
The saltwater crocodile shows a low incidence of infection from serious injuries sustained during intraspecific aggression, in spite of the microbe-laden environment in which it lives. This suggests a well-developed innate immune system, which provides a rapid, non-specific first line of host defense. In other aquatic species such as amphibians and fish, this defense is found in the mucous skin secretions as antimicrobial peptides.
Due to the anatomy of the crocodile, we reasoned that a homologous defense would be found in the circulatory system, either as soluble factors or as agents expressed in phagocytic cells. To address the first hypothesis, we extracted serum from wild saltwater crocodiles to isolate naturally occurring antibiotics. The serum was maintained at -80C until fractionation.
Serum was fractionated by Reverse-phase HPLC on a C-18 column with a 0-60% acetonitrile gradient, and fractions were assayed for antibiotic activity against E. coli in a modified radial diffusion assay. Preliminary results indicated strong antibiotic activity in several fractions. We have taken a single fraction, eluting at 13% acetonitrile, for further characterization.
Based on our initial observations, we predict that the crocodile
exhibits both peptide and non-peptide based antimicrobial activity in its blood.
Current status is that blood has been sampled from over a dozen species (a similar compound was later discovered in Crocodylus johnstoni) but further results are pending. As we have no funding to continue this work, we're doing as much as possible in our spare time (which is virtually non-existent).
The latest chapter of this story is that a company in the UK is now selling a product called "The Antidote" which they claim is based on "crocodillin".
As we have not fully sequenced the molecule, this is a curious thing to say.
Mind you, they also claim that it cures AIDS, SARS, cancer and various other ills, so I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions.
this was in an e-mail from Adam Britton.