Purified Mucins from Pig's Stomach can be used as Antiviral Agents

pig mucins antivirals

 

Mucins, secreted from the mucus membrane lining our nose, alimentary tract and the vagina, act as our first line of defense against infectious agents. They are the first barrier of our body’s potent immune system and disease causing bacteria and viruses can gain entry into our body only when they breach this barrier. The slimy and sticky mucus secretions trap these disease causing organisms before they can cause infection and is then excreted out of our system. The mucins protect our body from infections as innocuous as influenza to as dangerous as HIV.
 
However, our body produces limited amount of mucins. Breast milk is often used as a source of mucins but the amount procured from it cannot meet the industrial requirements. Therefore, scientists have always been on a look out for potential exogenous sources of mucins. The mucins produced in the gut of pigs are already used to create artificial saliva in patients suffering from a condition called as xerostomia or dry mouth. But now, the researchers, led by Katharina Ribbeck, have found out that the mucins derived from the alimentary tract of the pigs possess the same anti-viral properties as the human mucins. They have therefore, opined that the mucus membrane of pigs can be used as an abundant source of mucins. The results of the study have been published in the journal published by the American Chemical Society, Biomacromolecules.
 
The researchers have found that the purified mucins obtained from pig’s stomach possess a broad spectrum anti-viral activity. They can effectively block a variety of strains of viruses, which include influenza A virus, Merkel cell poyomavirus (MCV), and human papilloma virus (HPV). The latter is said to be associated with cervical and oral cancer. This anti-viral activity may be partly attributed to the retardation of virus diffusion inside the biopolymer matrix. The researchers have suggested that because of the potent anti-viral activity of these purified mucins, they can be used in a variety of personal hygiene products like toothpastes, ointments, mouthwashes, genital lubricants and baby formula.
 
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Date: 
Wednesday, October 1, 2014