For germ-fighting power, the eyes have it

Cytokeratin 6A, once thought to be just one of the structural proteins in cells lining the cornea, may actually play a role in warding off pathogens.

Researchers came upon the protein in their efforts to solve the mystery behind the eye’s remarkable resilience to infection. Tests showed that cytokeratin 6A-derived fragments could quickly kill bacteria in water and in a saline solution, showing that the salt contained in human tears would not dilute the protein’s effectiveness.

Since keratins are already in the body, they are biocompatible. Researchers believe that keratins may represent a class of antimicrobials, with the potential to selectively kill specific pathogens.

Read more at University of California, Berkeley