>> A breakthrough in Australia explains the few mysteries surrounding one of the World's quickest animals. It may help save the Koala and help humans too. The animal is partly famous for only eating leaves from the country's Eucalyptus trees. But the leaves are actually poisonous. At least they are for any other animal.
Now researchers have figured out how koalas can stomach them. By mapping the animal's entire genome. The found the koalas have developed unique genetic patterns that help them process the toxic leaves. Koalas are listed as a vulnerable species by Australia. They suffer from diseases including chlamydia, as well as a retro virus that has been linked to a form of koala cancer.
Researchers from the international team that led the project say the discoveries will benefit the koala's conservation.>> If you think about how the human genome has been sequenced, that was 20 years ago. But the applications have come along in leaps and bounds, to the point where we can have our own genome sequence these days.
And have medicine tailor made, to suit us at the genomic level. That would be a wonderful long-term goal for the Koala.>> Researchers say the Koala's genetic blueprint is slightly larger than in humans. Some of those extra genes relate to how koala's respond to infections. And that may help to develop new forms of treatment for strains of bacteria that have built resistance to antibiotics.
That includes the common but potentially deadly golden staph infection.>> These koala peptides can kill golden staph. And so, we're already starting to have conversations with biotech companies to potentially develop these peptides. And wouldn't it be fantastic if our next antibiotics came out of the koala's pouch?>> The Australia Koala Foundation estimates there are less than 100,000 koalas left in the world, but that figure could be as low as 43,000.