How a croc bite has led to a medical breakthrough for pain

Medical breakthroughs can often come from bizarre events but probably few can thank a crocodile bite.

Oct 27, 2023, updated Oct 27, 2023

That croc bite in the faraway Kimberley took off the finger of Nyikina Mangala man John Watson who then turned to the bark of a local Mudjala mangrove tree which he knew was used in traditional medicine as pain relief.

He chewed on the strip of bark and also applied it to his wound.

The story of the croc bite got back to Professor Ron Quinn from the Griffith University’s Institute for Drug Discovery.

The bark was found to have an effective compound for inflammatory pain while another compound has been found to mitigate sciatic nerve injury.

The hope is that the compound could be developed into a gel and supplied to athletes at the 2032 Olympics.

Quinn has also been named as a recipient of Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering’s traditional knowledge innovation award.

Traditional medicine has led to other breakthroughs. Honey from the abdomen of an ant that lives predominantly in the arid regions of Australia has proven to be effective against the potentially deadly golden staph bacteria.



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