Amid growing concern about how to dispose of a booming population of jellyfish — including 6-foot-long monsters weighing more than 400 pounds — scientists in Japan are reporting development of a process for extracting a commercially-valuable biomaterial from the marine animals. Their report is scheduled for the July 27 issue of ACS’ Journal of Natural Products, a monthly publication.
Kiminori Ushida and colleagues note that jellyfish populations have surged worldwide, a phenomenon variously attributed to global warming and artificial reefs built along coastlines.The animals are becoming nuisances, clogging water intakes at nuclear and conventional power plants, for instance, and researchers are seeking ways to cover the cost of removing huge masses of jellyfish from the environment.
In the new study, they describe a process for extracting high yields of a protein substance called mucin that could be used as a starting material for production of designer mucins with multiple uses. Found in mucous secretions from various parts of the body, mucins lubricate body surfaces and sometimes have antibacterial effects.
The report explains that the jellyfish mucin is similar to a human mucin and could substitute for mucin now obtained from pigs and cows for use in drug delivery, cosmetic products, food additives, and other products.
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