Panda blood contains a natural antibiotic that could help fight so-called superbugs, which are antibiotic-resistant bacteria, or bacteria that have developed a resistance to the antibiotics ordinarily employed to kill them.
According to a Dec. 30, 2012 report by The Telegraph, panda blood isn't the only natural source of these antimicrobial peptides. Antimicrobial compounds have also been observed in some snails and amphibians. However, researchers have found that panda blood holds promise because the cathelicidin-AM produced by immune cells in their blood kills bacteria more than five hours faster than other antibiotics, less than one hour versus more than six.
Dr. Xiuwen Yan, head researcher at Life Sciences College of Nanjing Agricultural University in China explained further:
"Antimicrobial peptides are important components in innate immunity – they can provide an effective and fast acting defense against harmful microorganisms."
The panda blood could be used in a new medication to treat patients infected with antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria or it could be used as an antiseptic. Either way, one problem remains. There certainly are not enough pandas to meet demand.
Giant pandas are an endangered species. According to WWF, there are fewer than 1,600 of these creatures left in the wild. They "live mainly in bamboo forests high in the mountains of western China, where they subsist almost entirely on bamboo." The biggest threat to these creatures comes from hunters. Although killing pandas is strictly forbidden, they are frequent casualties of humans who are hunting other animals in the pandas' natural habitat.