Chinese farm hits global headlines for breeding 6 billion cockroaches for medical purposes

Cockroaches are often associated with filthy sewers and dirty kitchens. But a giant farm in China breeds six billion cockroaches annually for pharmaceutical purposes, and such an operation is reversing people’s attitudes toward the insect.

The AI-controlled cockroach farm located in Xichang, southwest China’s Sichuan Province, hit headlines of overseas media recently.

The farm bred cockroaches for pharmaceutical purposes, producing medicines including a potion made entirely from the insects for treatment of stomach pains and other ailments, according to South China Morning Post (SCMP) cited the provincial government.

Although the farm is not the only one in China breeding such insects, it is believed to be the world’s largest cockroach farm, breeding adult cockroaches that outnumbers the world’s human population.

Shen Yongmei, the farm’s assistant general manager, told Sichuan Daily that “The potion extracted from roaches can repair wound surfaces and effectively treat ulcerative colitis, mouth ulcers, burns, and scalds.”

The facility achieved its unrivaled efficiency partly because of the powerful artificial intelligence (AI) system, SCMP reported.

The system can constantly collect and analyze data in over 80 categories, including humidity, temperature, food supply and consumption. It monitors changes such as genetic mutations and how these affect the growth rates of individual cockroaches.

Besides, the system is also reportedly capable of self-adjusting, improving the cockroach production and learning from its past work.

Cockroaches have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years.

Sun Xiaobo, the deputy director of China’s Institute of Medicinal Plant Development (IMPLAD), told Sichuan Daily that “The cockroach’s vitality may be linked to its genes… The result of genomic analysis of roaches can help researchers come up with new ideas to develop new medicines.”

China is not the only one interested in studying the medical value of cockroaches. Scientists have long wondered how roaches spend their lives in dirty environments with no ill effects.

Experts from different universities conducted research to figure out the medicinal use of cockroaches. Researchers from Nottingham University in UK discovered powerful antibiotic properties in cockroaches and locust’s brains which could lead to novel treatments for multi-drug resistant bacterial infections.

The experiments are focused on showing cockroaches may hold the key when it comes to developing drugs to knock out the most virulent bacterias that make humans ill, such as Escherichia coli, MRSA and other superbugs resistant to many existing treatments.

Culled from CGTN,Beijing 

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