WEB DESK: Have you ever wondered how snails can spend their time crawling over dirt rife with potentially dangerous bacteria but manage to stay healthy? Two British scientists did, and this led them to discover new proteins that can fight harmful bacteria.
Who would think of looking to the humble garden snail for a solution to antibiotic resistance, the phenomenon of harmful bacteria becoming unresponsive to drugs that could previously defeat them?
As it turns out, two researchers from the United Kingdom, who also happen to be husband and wife.
They are Sarah Pitt, Ph.D., principal lecturer in the School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Science at the University of Brighton, and Alan Gunn, Ph.D., subject lead for biosciences in the School of Natural Sciences and Psychology at Liverpool John Moores University.
According to Pitt, the idea just occurred to her husband, who expressed curiosity about the resilience of garden snails: “He was idly wondering about snails moving over the soil, etc., in a garden which is full of bacteria and how/why they appear to stay healthy. Was there something in the mucus which fought against infections?”
This snail mucus soon became the subject of an undergraduate student project that Gunn coordinated to investigate whether any components of the mucus might have antimicrobial properties.
However, as Gunn started discussing his laboratory methods with Pitt, she noted that his procedures were not likely to be successful.