Corey WilsonWednesday,18 March 2015

That’s not an acronym; I mean poo. For at least 6,000 years, we humans have been using animal shit to build our houses. Wattle and Daub housing (I assume it means “Poop and Shit”) has protected our poor, our middle-class, and our anosmic from nature’s fury. Centuries ago, we reformed humans began using animal shit to fertilize our crops—and it totally worked and didn’t make it taste bad at all. And now, after millennia of honing our shit-utilizing craft, we’ve reached new heights, for scientists from Switzerland are close to harnessing the power of shit to destroy our greatest foe. Bacteria.

Worldwide, bacteria is becoming increasingly resistant to common antibiotics due to improper use—which is why you should always finish that delicious bottle of penicillin even after your symptoms have gone away. Tuberculosis, for example, has developed a resistance to many drugs used to combat the disease; this has resulted in new strains of the disease like MDR-TB, or TDR-TB. I know these sound like dope Halo guns, but they’re not. They’re acronyms that stand for Multi-Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis, and Totally Drug-Resistant TB. And if that last one doesn’t scare you, it’s probably because you live in the First World and tuberculosis isn’t a real threat (except Italy). But regardless, this is a serious fucking problem. Think bubonic plague meets H1N1, meets West Nile Virus, but worse (probably).

But fear not foolish mortals, for European scientists found that a compound called copsin, which is found in mushrooms that grow on horse shit, is a bacterial-slayer of sorts. Which shouldn’t have come as a surprise, since we all know only the best mushrooms grow directly on animal shit.

What scientists at the University of Bonn found was that the mushroom Coprinopsis cinerea killed certain bacteria, and that the aforementioned copsin was responsible for its antibacterial swordsmanship. Copsin aids our little shit-eating friend by going right for the bacterial-jugular.

Scientist Andreas Essig described it this way:

Now copsin kills bacteria by binding to an essential cell wall building block. The cell wall you can consider like the Achilles heel of bacteria, so when you disrupt the cell wall synthesis bacteria usually dies rapidly. The binding pattern of copsin on this building block is very unqiue, and therefore copsin is active against bacteria resistant to conventional antibiotics.”

Which is exactly what tuberculosis didn’t want us to know because it’s grown used to picking on antibiotics that shop at places like Hollister, or Banana Republic. Copsin’s unique way of binding to the cell wall and preventing cell growth, isn’t something tuberculosis knows how to deal with—should’a stayed in school, Tuberculosis.

Copsin also appears to be arriving as a saviour to the food industry, as it runs down pathogens like Listeria (which causes food poisoning) just like Gandalf ran down orcs at Helms Deep.

So while Copsin is awaiting patenting, and tuberculosis is shitting its knickers, I’ll give you all one last piece of advice: don’t be such a bitch; finish your damn medicine.

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Hat Tips:

ETHzürich, World Health Organization, CBC, Globe and Mail, Image Credit: Flickr

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