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Synthetic Mucus

April 27, 2017

Why are scientists trying to replicate mucus in the lab?

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

The magical world of mucus. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

There are very few members of the Mucus Fan Club. And MIT biological engineer Katharina Ribbeck thinks that’s a shame.

KATHARINA RIBBECK (MIT):

Mucus is this unsung hero which can do things really to help us protect ourselves from infection.

HIRSHON:

She says mucus lines our gut, provides a home for trillions of bacteria living there, and can alter its properties to control populations and respond to any outbreaks of disease-causing germs.

RIBBECK:

Somehow mucus manages to domesticate our microbes and that is really important because that means they can stick around without however doing harm to our bodies.

HIRSHON:

At the Experimental Biology 2017 conference, Ribbeck explained that learning to manipulate it or even replicate it by making synthetic mucus, could help doctors treat infections resistant to antibiotics. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Bob Hirshon