Scientists have examined a marine bacterium called Bacillus licheniformis
. The bacterium is commonly found on the surface of seaweed. Upon examination of the bacterium, the scientists have found that in contains an enzyme which might be useful for the treatment of blocked sinuses.
Sinusitis, according to the NHS
, is inflammation (swelling) of the lining of the sinuses, caused by a viral or bacterial infection.
The enzyme, called NucB, is key to the way the spray works, according to the research briefing
. In many cases of chronic sinusitis, bacteria form a community called a biofilm. This is a slimy protective barrier which can protect the bacteria from sprays or antibiotics. The identified enzyme appears to be able to break down the bacterial barriers commonly found in the nose, allowing the nasal spray to clear the nasal cavity and to alleviate the blockage to the sinuses.
The implication of the research is that the dispersal of bacterial biofilms with NucB may offer an additional therapeutic target for sinus sufferers (what is medically referred to as chronic rhinosinusitis).
The development of a nasal spray was not the initial reason for the research. The scientists had set out to isolate a compound for cleaning the hulls of ships.
The spray has been developed by scientists based at Newcastle University
, led by Dr Nicholas Jakubovics. The findings have been published
in the journal PLOS ONE.