According to a study undertaken at UC Berkeley, in the U.S., proteins found in the eye can be harnessed to fight pathogenic bacteria.
The science group have discovered that small fragments of keratin protein in the eye play an important role in resisting infection from certain bacteria. According to the research brief, the proteins have been shown to be effective against such pathogens as ‘strep throat’ (Streptococcus pyogenes) and E. coli.
Whilst the proteins are effective against bacteria they are non-toxic to the human body. The protein is called Cytokeratin 6A and it can be found in the epithelial cells of the human cornea as well as in skin, hair and nails. The scientists have found that it can be extracted better from the eye.
E-Health News states that the implication of the research is that a new generation of antimicrobial drugs could be produced. The keratin fragments are relatively easy to manufacture, making them potential candidates for the manufacture of low-cost therapeutic drugs.
The researchers have also noted that further research could reveal numerous different keratin fragments in the body's innate defense system.
The findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. The reference is:
Connie Tam. Cytokeratins mediate epithelial innate defense through their antimicrobial properties. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2012