Researchers have recently discovered new proteins in snail mucus which are thought to be able to fight off harmful bacteria, thus potentially providing a solution to antibiotic resistance, the phenomenon during which harmful bacteria becomes unresponsive to drugs that could previously defeat them.
In their study, the researchers collected mucus from common garden snails (known as ‘Cornu aspersum’) and found that the snails’ mucus was able to inhibit a variety of strains of the ‘superbug’ bacterium, ‘Pseudomonas aeruginosa’, which had come from individuals with cystic fibrosis-related infections. The study yielded some interesting results, with four previously unknown proteins in snail mucus being discovered. Further, two of these proteins appear to exhibit strong antimicrobial properties, especially against aggressive and harmful strains of the bacterium, which is known to be a germ resistant to strong antibiotics and can cause lung infections in patients with cystic fibrosis and infections in skin wounds.
Co-author of the study, Dr. Sarah Pitt from the University of Brighton, explained how they went about conducting the study: ‘we tried all the control strains of P. aeruginosa we have available […] as well as five strains taken from patients [with cystic fibrosis] who had lung infections with this bacterium’. The researchers thus separated proteins from the snail mucus and then tested each of them, controlling for antibacterial properties.
These findings open up a multitude of possibilities for more therapeutic approaches to treatment, and scientists are optimistic that, in the foreseeable future, they may be able to transform these proteins with healing potential into ground-breaking treatments for humans.
Students applying for Biological Sciences, along with those planning to apply to Medicine, can delve deeper into exploration of these novel discoveries and contemplate how such research can lead to pioneering scientific developments within the medical community.