Lemurs and baboons could help treat foot ulcers in people with diabetes.
Scientists have found viruses in the feces of endangered animals, including Guinea baboons, lemurs and Visayan pigs, that could kill bacteria present in diabetic foot ulcers.
These ulcers cause more than 7,000 amputations a year and cost £1 billion, but they can be difficult to treat because the ulcers are often infected by bacteria which prevent healing.
These bacteria are also often resistant to antibiotics, meaning that medications cannot kill them.
However, scientists have discovered in the laboratory that viruses contained in animal waste can kill some of the harmful bacteria most common in foot ulcers.
Scientists have discovered that viruses present in the feces of endangered animals, including Guinea baboons (pictured), could kill the bacteria present in diabetic foot ulcers.
They have yet to test these viruses in the ulcers of diabetic patients, but they are hopeful of making a major breakthrough.
The viruses, called bacteriophages, were found in the feces of animals at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park.
Professor Graham Stafford, who leads research into viruses at the University of Sheffield, said: “We have been looking for new treatments for antibiotic resistance for some time and we are the first to look for such a virus in the faeces of the zoos.
“It is a pleasure that endangered species contribute to such a positive and powerful purpose.”
Once more research has been done, naturally occurring viruses could be included in dressings applied to previously untreatable diabetic foot ulcers.
There are thousands of different types of bacteriophages and they are considered a new frontier in medicine, which could also be used to treat sepsis in the future.
So far, researchers have identified useful bacteria in the fecal matter of Guinea baboons, giraffes, lemurs, Visayan pigs and binturongs, which are part of a collection of 450 animals from more than 70 rare and endangered species in Yorkshire. Wildlife Park.
There are an estimated 4.5 million people with diabetes in the UK and around 450,000 will develop a foot ulcer at some point in their lives.
Dr Dinesh Selvarajah, consultant physician at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Unfortunately, I see many patients with diabetic foot in my clinic.
“More effective treatment of infections will have a significant impact on reducing the risk of amputations.”