26 September 2012

Keratin antibiotic?

The proteins of the cornea of the eye have antibacterial properties

ABC MagazineResearchers from the University of California at Berkeley (UC Berkeley), USA, found small fragments of keratin proteins with powerful antimicrobial properties in the cornea of the human eye.

This discovery can help in the creation of fundamentally new, inexpensive and non-toxic antibacterial drugs. You can read more about this discovery on the pages of the Journal of Clinical Investigation (Cytokeratins mediate epithelial innate defense through their antimicrobial properties).

Protein fragments were discovered by scientists in the search for an answer to the question why human eyes have such amazing resistance to infections. These fragments, 10 amino acids long, were obtained from cytokeratin 6A, one of the filamentous proteins that, when combined, form a network that permeates the cytoplasm of epithelial cells. According to the author of the study, Professor of microbiology Suzanne Fleiszig, it was previously believed that these proteins have only a structural function. "In addition to the cornea of the eye, cytokeratin 6A is found in the cells of the skin, hair and nails," the author writes. – All these areas are constantly in contact with the environment and, apparently, that's why they "got" with their own antibiotics."

To make sure that these keratin fragments play a major role in the antibacterial protection of the eye, scientists blocked the activity of the gene responsible for the synthesis of cytokeratin A6 in laboratory mice. After that, the resistance of their eyes to the effects of pathogenic microbes decreased several times. The researchers also placed synthetic versions of these keratin fragments in water and saline solution populated with pathogenic bacteria, and made sure that these proteins are able to destroy strains of Streptococcus, E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus and even Pseudomonas aeruginosa in a few minutes. At the same time, the presence of salt in the medium does not reduce the effectiveness of proteins. According to scientists, the mechanism of action of these fragments is the destruction of bacterial cell membranes.

Keratin fragments are quite easy to obtain in pharmaceutical production, which makes them excellent and inexpensive candidates for a new era of antibacterial therapy. Scientists especially emphasize that these proteins are natural components of our body, so there is no doubt about their safety or biocompatibility.

Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru26.09.2012

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