Eagle-eyed baby-animal-and-science enthusiast Brett McS actually sent this a couple of days ago so apologies if this has already been celebrated the internet over.
As marsupials, wallabies give birth to young at a much earlier stage in their development than placental mammals. For example, the tammar wallaby, Macropus eugenii, is born after 26 days, equivalent to a 6-week-old human fetus. The tiny wallabies then crawl into their mother’s pouch to grow larger.
“It’s not a clean environment,” says Cocks. Bacteria closely related to the superbugs affecting humans in hospitals have been found in the wallaby pouch. But the baby wallabies are so underdeveloped that they lack an adaptive immune system to fight them; their survival depends on their innate immune system.
Cocks’s team scoured the wallaby genome and found genes that code for 14 cathelicidin peptides, a component of the innate immune system. Lab tests revealed that many of the peptides could kill a range of multidrug-resistant pathogens – without damaging human cells.
That’s about where I lose the thread. But hey! Baby wallabies can survive even nationalized health care! That’s something!