In a News Release published today by the University of California at Irvine, it was announced that a UCI research team has discovered how a protein in our teardrops is able to destroy dangerous bacteria.
Nobel laureate Alexander Fleming discovered about a century ago antiseptic proteins called lysozymes contained in human tears. Since that time, many scientists have been on a quest to discover how those lysozymes could be used to kill off far larger bacteria.
The UCI research team of Gregory Weiss, molecular biologist, and Philip Collins, associate professor of physics & astronomy (not the musician), spent years building and assembling one of the world’s smallest transistors (picture circuitry 25 times smaller than what we see in smartphones or laptops) and gluing the single-molecule teardrop proteins to the live wire to listen to the behavior of the protein.
They learned that lysozymes function much like PacMen, with jaws that latch onto and chomp through rows of bacteria cell walls which try to get into your eyes and infect them.
Weiss and Collins are hopeful that using similar technology can help with early detection of cancer and other serious illnesses, which can result in improved outcomes for healing, with reduced costs for treatment.
These findings will be published on January 20th in the journal Science.