Protein in the eye 'helps to fight off germs'

27 September 2012

Proteins found exclusively in a person's eyes could be used to battle against germs affecting other parts of the body, new research indicates.

A team of scientists based at the University of California (UC) Berkeley has been successful in identifying small fragments of keratin protein in a human eye.

The researchers are confident that this ingredient has a key role to play in fighting off pathogens, and have conducted tests to prove their point.

In the study, the scientists pitted synthetic versions of the keratin protein against a series of problematic pathogens, with the molecules zapping all of the bacteria.

This is particularly eye-catching due to the fact that pathogens can develop into cystic fibrosis lung infections, flesh-eating diseases, staph infections and strep throat if allowed to enter the body. 

Professor Suzanne Fleiszig, from UC Berkeley's School of Optometry, was keen to note: "What's really exciting is that the keratins in our study are already in the body, so we know that they are not toxic, and that they are biocompatible."

Earlier this month, researchers from Lancaster University also suggested that a simple eye test could be critical in diagnosing Alzheimer's disease at a much earlier stage.

Posted by Jeanette Royston


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