According to a new study published by two MIT researchers in the journal Current Biology, mucus is a highly efficient disinfectant and can be used to fight back bacteria and prevent infections.
More precisely, a polymer found in mucus (i.e. mucin) keeps bacteria from moving around and forming “colonies” by trapping them and holding them suspended, sources say.
These MIT researchers hope that, one day, it might be possible to incorporate mucin into everyday cleaning products such as toothpaste and mouthwash.
Moreover, mucus-based coatings could help keep medical instruments free of bacteria and therefore safe to use.
“Mucus is a material that has developed over millions of years of evolution to manage our interactions with the microbial world,” researcher Katharina Ribbeck says.
Furthermore, “I’m sure we can find inspiration from it for new strategies to help prevent infections and bacterial colonization.”