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BOB HIRSHON (host):
Fighting viruses with pigs. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.
Mucus isn’t pretty, but it is useful – for example, among other things, it contains virus-blocking proteins, called mucins. But it isn’t practical to extract human mucins to make medicines. So Massachusetts Institute of Technology biochemist Katharina Ribbeck and her colleagues looked at mucin from pig stomachs.
KATHARINA RIBBECK (Massachusetts Institute of Technology):
We found that mucins from pig stomachs can protect an underlying cell surface from viral infection.
Those viruses included HPV, which causes cervical cancer, Merkel cell polyomavirus, linked to skin cancer, and influenza. Since pig entrails are widely available, they could be used to develop antiviral additives for wound ointments, toothpaste, and baby formula – although Ribbeck says the commercial version would almost certainly be synthetic. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.