Blog | Wednesday, April 18, 2012

IM 2012: New respect for crocs

Dr. Colin Wozencraft, MD, the co-director of the Vietnam Palliative Care Fellowship at Harvard, spoke about cultural competency in palliative care for a talk during the hospital medicine precourse.  He was told to imagine the case of a fictional Vietnamese patient who lives in New Orleans, whose family wanted to try to cure the dying patient with alligator blood.

 Having never heard of such a treatment, Dr. Wozencraft did a little snooping and found that while there is no evidence that anyone uses gator or crocodile blood medicinally, crocodiles are rather interesting from a medical standpoint. They never get viral infections or cancer. In preliminary research it was found that crocodile serum, when mixed with the HIV virus, killed the virus.  And crocodile bile extract can induce apoptosis in human cholangiocarcinoma cells.  

No word on how the gators stack up to their toothier relatives.