London, Dec 10 (ANI): Starfish could hold the key to new treatment for inflammatory conditions such as asthma, hay fever and arthritis, believe scientists.
The species they are interested in is the spiny starfish (Marthasterias glacialis), and in particular the slimy goo that covers its body.
The team says that chemicals in this coating could inspire new medicines.
While most man-made structures that are placed in the water rapidly get caked with a mixture of marine life, starfish manage to keep their surface clear.
"Starfish live in the sea, and are bathed in a solution of bacteria, larvae, viruses and all sorts of things that are looking for somewhere to live," the BBC quoted Dr Charlie Bavington, from GlycoMar, a marine biotechnology company based at the Scottish Association for Marine Science in Oban, as saying.
"But starfish are better than Teflon: they have a very efficient anti-fouling surface that prevents things from sticking."
And it is this non-stick property that has grabbed medical scientists' attention, particularly in the field of inflammation.
Inflammation is the body's natural response to an injury or infection, but inflammatory conditions are caused when the immune system begins to rage out of control.
White blood cells, which normally flow easily through our blood vessels, begin to build up and stick to the blood vessel wall, and this can cause tissue damage.
The idea is that a treatment based on starfish slime could effectively coat our blood vessels in the same way the goo covers the marine creature, and prevent this problem.
"It is a very similar situation to something sticking to a starfish in the sea," Bavington said.
"These cells have to stick from a flowing medium to a blood vessel wall, so we thought we could learn something from how starfish prevent this so we could find a way to prevent this in humans," Bavington added. (ANI)