Enzyme in human body may be key to bioweapon vaccines
Lysozyme, an enzyme that is present in human tears, milk, mucus and saliva, attacks the cell walls of bacteria, eventually breaking down the walls, MNN.com reports.
"Pretty much every wet area of your body has antimicrobial powers," Alexander M. Cole, an associate professor at the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Central Florida, said, MNN.com reports. "There is evidence that it [human urine] contains a peptide called human beta defensin 1 that may help keep a urinary tract infection from reaching the kidneys."
Alexander Fleming, the scientist who discovered penicillin, first observed lysozyme's anti-bacterial characteristics in 1922. The enzyme is now considered a natural form of protection against such pathogens as salmonella and E.coli.
Saeed Khan, a researcher at the National Center for Toxicological Research in Arkansas, has shown new evidence that lysozyme can defend against anthrax as well. Khan and a team of researchers used an anthrax substitute to infect egg whites. Lysozyme was then found to kill the spores in the egg whites. It was also found to destroy spores in beef and milk, according to MNN.com.
As a result of the finding, experts are optimistic that lysozyme can be developed into a vaccine against biological weapons.