Washington: In a new study, scientists have tried to discover how exactly a disease-fighting protein in teardrops destroys dangerous bacteria.The researchers from UCI believe that the research could prove critical to long-term work aimed at diagnosing cancers and other illnesses in their very early stages.Ever since Nobel laureate Alexander Fleming found that human tears contain antiseptic proteins called lysozymes about a century ago, scientists have tried to solve the mystery of how they could relentlessly wipe out far larger bacteria.It turns out that lysozymes have jaws that latch on and chomp through rows of cell walls like someone hungrily devouring an ear of corn.“Those jaws chew apart the walls of the bacteria that are trying to get into your eyes and infect them,” Gregory Weiss, who co-led the study with Philip Collins, said.The researchers decoded the protein’s behaviour by building one of the world’s smallest transistors, 25 times smaller than similar circuitry in laptop computers or smartphones. Individual lysozymes were glued to the live wire, and its eating activities were monitored.“Our circuits are molecule-sized microphones,” Collins said.“It’s just like a stethoscope listening to your heart, except we’re listening to a single molecule of protein,” he said.
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