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Discovery may lead to new crop of antimicrobial drugs

Narrator:       This is Science Today. A team of researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, has discovered that small fragments of keratin protein in the eye play a key role in warding off pathogens. Suzanne Fleiszig of the UC Berkeley School of Optometry says their discovery could lead to new antimicrobial drugs.

Fleiszig:         It's quite possible these keratins may have similar properties, fragments and that maybe these things are actually involved in selecting which bugs live on us. You know, if these keratins actually have different activities, keratin fragments, then it could be that different ones are expressed in different parts of the body and that could be involved in selecting what lives on us and what doesn't.

Narrator:       Fleiszig adds that these keratin fragments may be useful for designing therapeutics.

Fleiszig:         Where you could have different fragments of different sizes and slightly different structures and you put them together so they have synergistic activities and it might decrease the chances that bacteria will become resistant to whatever you're using.

Narrator:       For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.