Vitamin B12 could detoxify pollutants

Looking at how certain organisms manage to lower the toxicity of pollutants, researchers have discovered that vitamin B12 could be the key to combating pollution.

IANS| Last Updated: Oct 20, 2014, 16:02 PM IST

London: Looking at how certain organisms manage to lower the toxicity of pollutants, researchers have discovered that vitamin B12 could be the key to combating pollution.

The findings could lead to more effective methods for detoxifying dangerous pollutants like PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and dioxins, the researchers said.

Some of the most toxic pollutants contain halogen atoms and most biological systems simply do not know how to deal with these molecules.

"However, there are some organisms that can remove these halogen atoms using vitamin B12," said David Leys, professor at The University of Manchester in Britain.

"Our research has identified that they use vitamin B12 in a very different way to how we currently understand it," Leys added.

The study is a culmination of 15 years of research.

The team at the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology were investigating how some natural organisms manage to lower the level of toxicity and shorten the life span of several notorious pollutants.

They used X-ray crystallography to study in 3D how halogen removal is achieved.

"Detailing how this novel process of detoxification works means that we are now in a position to look at replicating it," Leys said.

"We hope that ultimately new ways of combating some of the world's biggest toxins can now be developed more quickly and efficiently," Leys concluded.

The study appeared in the journal Nature.