A substance found in saliva could help develop new drugs to treat antibiotic-resistant infections. It raises hopes for people with diseases like HIV and cystic fibrosis, who regularly develop infections that are difficult to treat with conventional drugs.

Dr. Libuse Bobek, of the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine in New York, discovered the saliva chemical, which kills fungal agents like candidiasis, cryptococcosis and aspergillosis that can threaten people whose immune systems are compromised. It also destroys several bacteria, including E.coli and P. gingivalis, which cause serious intestinal and oral infections, and S. mutans, which causes tooth decay.

Dr. Lorna Layward, of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, says, ?In cystic fibrosis, the lungs get infected with a range of different micro organisms and anything that can be found to be effective and safe to eradicate lung infections would make a significant difference to people’s lives.?

Dr. Alan Johnson of the Public Health Laboratory Service (PHLS) says, ?Given the increasing prevalence of strains of bacteria resistant to current antibiotics, any new drugs that show antibacterial activity are to be welcomed.?

Scientists have long known that some animal saliva has antibiotic properties, which is why dogs and cats will often lick their wounds. Now it turns out that human saliva is healthy too.

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