Synthetic ‘worm secretion’ protein developed by Australian scientists could be used to save lives

According tomedia reports, one of the creepy things about ticks is that they not only suck your blood, but also stay undetected for long periods of time. Scientists have now synthesized proteins that allow them to escape, and may have life-saving medical applications. When a tick bites, its saliva secretes a protein called evasins. These proteins bind to molecules in the blood of host animals, called chematin factors.

Synthetic 'worm secretion' protein developed by Australian scientists could be used to save lives

Typically, these molecules trigger the body’s immune response when bitten by a worm. This causes the white blood cells to move to the wound site, making them inflamed. However, by combining with the chemokine factor, evasins can prevent this from happening. As a result, the ticks can continue to eat while the host is indifferent.

Because evasins do suppress the immune response, which itself is sometimes harmful, scientists had hoped to use it in drugs. But it turns out that separating them from the saliva of ticks and designing ways to harvest them in large quantities can be challenging.

Instead, scientists from the University of Sydney in Australia have now succeeded in synthesizing the proteins from scratch. In addition, Ph.D. student Charlotte Frank found that sulfate molecules attach to naturally occurring evasins make them particularly effective in combining with chemokines.

As a result, it is hoped that this sulphate-added synthetic evasins could eventually be used to treat inflammatory diseases— which could even include COVID-19, which causes inflammation of the lungs.

“We are now trying to engineer these sulphate-based evasin molecules to make them more effective and stable in the blood,” Frank said. “Then we can start exploring how clinically they are effective in treating a range of inflammations. “

A recent research paper led by Professor Richard Payne was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).