Protein that makes fireflies glow could assist in medical diagnosisadmin
In a study recently published in Nature Communications, a group of Swiss scientists have found a way to use luciferase – the protein that makes fireflies glow – to potentially detect cancer and other diseases. Scientists took the protein and added a chemcial tag that causes it to glow when it attaches to another target module, such as a tumor. Because the light would be visible to the naked eye, this would greatly decrease diagnostic time and cost.
While this method won’t be widely implemented any time soon – scientists believe that it will take about 2-3 years before this technique is perfected – Kai Johnsson, a professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Laussane that was part of the published paper, and his colleagues have been utilizing this same concept to develop a molecule that monitors drug use. The startup Johnsson helped start in 2014 is developing test strips that can determine, using a drop of blood or spit, how much of a drug someone has in their system.
These are just two examples of how scientists are turning to nature to help diagnose and treat human ailments.