Los Angeles, California — since damaging bacteria have become more resistant to existing antibiotics, scientists have been researching whether fish mucus contains ingredients that could offer protection against pathogens.

The team, comprised of California State University Fullerton and Oregon State University, have analyzed the bacteria contained in the slime that coats fish and serves as protection.

According to the American Chemical Society, antibiotics have been losing their effectiveness worldwide, which is why the researches have been looking for a replacement in such unlikely places.

They have stated that the bacteria found in the fish mucus may be effective against known pathogens. The layer of slime on fish destroys microbes, such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi, in their environment. Additionally, some components contained in the slime have an antibacterial function.

Antibiotics in handAccording to Sandra Loesgen from Oregon State University, the team’s lead researcher, any microbe found in the marine environment is worth studying, if it can provide a new compound.

She said that marine microorganisms have never been thoroughly studied and that the fish slime may be a new source of those microbes.

The team presented the study at the American Chemical Society National Meeting and Exposition in April.

During the course of the presentation, Loesgen stated that they worked with Erin Paig-Tran at Cal State Fullerton, who provided them with fish mucus.

The team of Paig-Tran has scrubbed young fish found both in the depths and near the sea surface. The reason the team aimed for young fish is that their immune system is less developed and therefore they have more slime in comparison to older fish. The slime they have collected contains a big amount of active bacteria.

Paige Mandelare, a graduate student at Oregon State University, and Molly Austin, an undergraduate student at the same university, then isolated and analyzed 47 different sorts of bacteria from the mucus. Five of them were effectual against MRSA, whereas three were effectual against a certain fungus that is harmful to humans.

Austin discovered a particular bacteria on Pacific pink perch that proved itself effective against MRSA and a carcinogenic colon cell. The purpose of her future studies is to discover how bacteria could be useful for antibiotics.

Loesgen said that other than searching for a new source of antibiotics in order to help people, they have been looking into other benefits of the mucus. For instance, it may help fish farmers in terms of locating fish, as such antibiotics may target particular bacteria better.

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