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Viruses In Mucus Protect From Infection

Unknown Lamer posted about a year ago | from the just-using-you dept.

Science 75

ananyo writes "Researchers have discovered that animal mucus — ' whether from humans, fish or corals' — is loaded with bacteria-killing viruses called phages. These protect their hosts from infection by destroying incoming bacteria. In return, the phages are exposed to a steady torrent of microbes in which to reproduce. Mucus mainly consists of huge molecular complexes called mucins, which are made up of thousands of glycan sugars attached to a central protein backbone. The team showed that phages stick to these sugars, reducing the number of bacteria that can attach to mucus by more than 10,000 times."

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75 comments

Don't bother to read the article. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43777031)

Just eat more pussy, it makes you healthy.

Re:Don't bother to read the article. (2, Funny)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about a year ago | (#43777223)

Ray Manzarek dies and this shit gets posted?

Have some PRIORITIES, man!

Re:Don't bother to read the article. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43777275)

At least it's a science article and not some bullshit movie review.

But yeah, Ray was a giant. He'll be sadly missed.

Absolutely. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43777543)

If only there were some system whereby more than one story could be on Slashdot at once.

Re:Don't bother to read the article. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43779009)

Bummer. Didn't know until reading this.

Re:Don't bother to read the article. (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#43780599)

Bah, I didn't even know this guy ever lived, much less that he died. I guess that biology is simply a more familiar topic to me. Well, don't let the Doors hit you on the way out.

why are you eating boogers? (4, Informative)

hguorbray (967940) | about a year ago | (#43777051)

I'm protecting my myself from bacteria -honest....

I'm just sayin'

Re:why are you eating boogers? (1)

game kid (805301) | about a year ago | (#43777489)

"I'm not addicted to cake rolls [duckduckgo.com]! I'm just trying to increase the glycan* sugar level in my mucus!"

*Not to be confused with the lycan [wikipedia.org] sugar level, which is both different and much scarier.

Re:why are you eating boogers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43778387)

The extra salty crunchy ones are the best.

Re:why are you eating boogers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43778649)

The extra salty crunchy ones are the best.

Dude, I thought this was a response to the first post [slashdot.org] and was like WTF?!

Pray for Oklahoma (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43777109)

Much of Moore, OK has been wiped off the map tonight. Please say a prayer for our fellow countrymen. There is no way you can guard yourself against something like this. When the Lord calls you home, it's your time.

Re:Pray for Oklahoma (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43777131)

For your sake I hope He calls you soon. For our sake as well.

Re:Pray for Oklahoma (1)

MagusSlurpy (592575) | about a year ago | (#43779121)

There is no way you can guard yourself against something like this. When the Lord calls you home, it's your time.

Unless you have a basement.

Re:Pray for Oklahoma (1)

LDAPMAN (930041) | about a year ago | (#43781455)

While your odds of survival are better with a basement, with a storm this strong it is not enough.

Re:Pray for Oklahoma (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | about a year ago | (#43779615)

Ma fellow countrymen haven't been hit by a tornado.

So, besides completly missing the subject of this thread thematically, this is an international forum.

And what I really would like to know: Why do you exclude foreigners (from your viewpoint) from including the tornado victims in their prayers?

Re:Pray for Oklahoma (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43780899)

Why do you feed trolls? Idiot.

You mean... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43782197)

...reveal our location to her by pestering her with prayers?

Are you insane or just mean and suicidal?

Most 'science' is fraud (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43777111)

Why hadn't the so-called 'experts' worked this out decades ago?

Next.... (1)

TheCarp (96830) | about a year ago | (#43777115)

The directions this sort of research could be taken next are so amusing.
First, A potentially communicable source of disease resistance. Nose picking: Beneficial Adaptation for both picking up AND spreading immunity?

Re:Next.... (1)

Livius (318358) | about a year ago | (#43778533)

Thankfully the key to success will be leaving the mucus in place rather than messing with it.

Interesting... (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#43777117)

Does anybody know how mucus differs from the 'extracellular polymeric substance' of which biofilms are made, such that the one would be a haven for bacteriophages and the other a haven for bacteria?

Re:Interesting... (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year ago | (#43777425)

Not personally, but I know a guy who knows a guy...

Actually I just know the guy; we work together. I'll bug him tomorrow for you.

Re:Interesting... (3, Funny)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43777603)

Actually I just know the guy; we work together. I'll bug him tomorrow for you.

Not if his mucus has anything to say about it.

Re:Interesting... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43777621)

Not personally, but I know a guy who knows a guy...

Actually I just know the guy; we work together. I'll bug him tomorrow for you.

Make sure to at least give him a reach-around...

Re:Interesting... (1)

MagusSlurpy (592575) | about a year ago | (#43779163)

I've never worked with biofilms, but I was a part of a research group that did, so hopefully I am remembering this correctly.

They're actually very similar in makeup, mucins and biofilms. The way mucins are supposed to work is to preferentially bind to the external saccharides on cellular walls, inhibiting the microbes from attaching with their pili and thereby stopping the biofilm from ever gaining a foothold.

Most mucins are o-glycoproteins, while the biofilms are typically polysaccharides (very interlinked and stiff, unlike the intermittently-crosslinked and thereby floppy o-glycoproteins).

Of course, there are plenty of OTHER things on which biofilms will form, like iron and other metals, by using siderophores [wikipedia.org] and whatnot. But that's not really relevant to this discussion.

Re:Interesting... (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year ago | (#43794439)

Well, the guy was busy. Besides what MagusSlurpy covered, the reason the mucus and bacteriophages are able to co-operate is because the bacteriophages mimic the shapes of antibodies on their exteriors, and mucin proteins have patches of glycan residues that bind antibodies and hold them in place as a normal defence mechanism. The bulk of the paper actually focuses on this exact thing.

Well, that might explain a few things (2)

kheldan (1460303) | about a year ago | (#43777157)

For starters, why we produce more mucus when we're sick: more habitat for the symbiote virus, so it can try to repel the invader. Too bad it isn't (more?) effective against invading virii.

Re:Well, that might explain a few things (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about a year ago | (#43777237)

I'd say it does a good job on secondary infections. The body really is an amazing organism, all hands on deck in the face of hopeless odds. However I can see mucus bandages on the horizon which is mildly revolting.

Re:Well, that might explain a few things (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year ago | (#43802779)

Clean synthetic mucus would probably just be a clear gel with a bit of "slimy" tendencies. Hardly any more disgusting than, say, antibiotic ointments are.

Re:Well, that might explain a few things (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43777671)

It's 'Viruses'. People who think otherwise have their heads up their anii.

Re:Well, that might explain a few things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43787271)

Headi up their anii.

Re:Well, that might explain a few things (1)

Medievalist (16032) | about a year ago | (#43783719)

Help out the content search engines, man? Always and only use the word "virii" when you are talking about the plural of a computer virus. In the English language, the correct plural form of a biological virus is "viruses".

It's bad enough that the singular form is ambiguous out of context, at least help us build a useful signifier in the plural form.

Old knowledge (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43777177)

Well, that does give some meaning to the phrase "to lick ones wounds".

Re:Old knowledge (4, Interesting)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#43777251)

Well, that does give some meaning to the phrase "to lick ones wounds".

Not new meaning, just new understanding. Saliva was already well known to have anti-bacterial properties. That is why animals lick their wounds. This just helps us better understand the mechanism. One theory that I have heard is that when a wound is licked, the wounded animal ingests the infecting bacteria, and develops antibodies which prevent the infection from spreading. This is similar to one reason that mother animals lick their babies: they ingest any bacteria on their young, and develop antibodies in their milk which are passed to their young when they nurse. This research shows one more reason that licking both your wounds and your young is a good idea.

Re:Old knowledge (3, Funny)

Ryanrule (1657199) | about a year ago | (#43777435)

So I should lick my prostitutes first?

Re:Old knowledge (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43777567)

Are you nursing off your prostitutes?

You mean, why buy the cow when you buy the milk for money?

Re:Old knowledge (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43777615)

I always tended to believe that evolutionary purpose of fellatio is disinfection before exposing internal parts of the body. Doesn't help the other way around though.

Re:Old knowledge (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43779247)

I always tended to believe that evolutionary purpose of fellatio is disinfection before exposing internal parts of the body. Doesn't help the other way around though.

It might just be to improve the chances of conception. Google 'fruitbat fellatio', which would also be a great name for a band

Re:Old knowledge (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43777629)

Doesn't everyone?

Re:Old knowledge (1)

Vitriol+Angst (458300) | about a year ago | (#43778521)

This research shows one more reason that licking both your wounds and your young is a good idea.

I think you just found a new defense that Jerry Sandusky's lawyers can use...

Re:Old knowledge (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43778613)

So does licking my girlfriend's pussy allow me to help her prevent bacterial vaginosis?

Re:Old knowledge (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | about a year ago | (#43780089)

This research shows one more reason that licking both your wounds and your young is a good idea.

This is why the grandchildren aren't allowed to visit anymore.

Can't lick my own junk... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43780227)

so I use peanut butter and let my dog do it for me

Do snails produce 'mucus?' (1)

bogaboga (793279) | about a year ago | (#43777183)

While I have no question about mucus humans produce when attacked by the cold, I wonder whether that slimy stuff snails produce is called mucus as well.

For one thing, it's the reason I will never [consciously] eat snails. In fact, snails in my culture, are regarded as 'dirty' creatures.

Re:Do snails produce 'mucus?' (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43777611)

For one thing, it's the reason I will never [consciously] eat snails. In fact, snails in my culture, are regarded as 'dirty' creatures.

Wild snails are dirty. That's why you feed them corn meal for a while until you eat them. I don't know how you can tell when they're done, but I've never really given too much thought to inspecting snail shit.

Re:Do snails produce 'mucus?' (2)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about a year ago | (#43777885)

I feed mine garlic from birth. Saves time. Producing a self-sautéeing snail is proving to be more difficult.

Able tells Baker that he should XYZ. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43777193)

Baker closes his fly
      and then sues Able for looking.

Seems like Able could use the Good Samaritan defense.

Explains dog licks being anti-bacterial (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43777241)

Actually a lot of animal behavior can be explained by this. I'd heard that dog's saliva was strangely anti-bacterial, especially considering what they like to eat. I'd expect dog's saliva to be high in phages - should be easy to test.

Re:Explains dog licks being anti-bacterial (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43777589)

That's why after a night with a 99-cent prostitute, I spread peanut butter on my balls and let the dog go to work.

Snot's cool. (4, Informative)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about a year ago | (#43777335)

Mucus drips down the sinus and keep gastric juices from destroying the stomach. Amazing stuff, snot is.

"Mucus is known to prevent particles such as dust, pollen, bacteria and dirt from reaching the lungs and the trachea. This is because these particles can cause irritation and infections to the lungs. Mucus is usually produced in the nose, where it lubricates the hairs found within the lining of the nose."

http://www.ask.com/question/what-does-mucus-do [ask.com]

Safety First (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43777399)

I protect my host with a HOSTS file!

is that how it started? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43777633)

... and that's how you evolve an immune system.

obvioiusly doesn't work (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a year ago | (#43778057)

And yet people still get colds and sinus infections. So yeah it would be a lot worse but this isn't some magic cure-all. What I do is nuke everything with zinc at the first sign of any illness and tada, it's gone. It prevents viruses from attaching to the cells along my nose's mucous membranes. I think scientists knew this since like 2004 and after 20/20 did a story on it, New York City sold out of Zinc overnight, as did many other areas. I personally haven't been sick in years and prevented at least 20 colds with zinc. That's the real cure.

Re:obvioiusly doesn't work (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43778269)

I hope you are aware that those are *viral* infections!
The article describes how the phages *in mucus* protect you from *bacteria*!

Our outer perimeter (skin) is great at protecting us against *bacteria* (and particles and chemicals in general). But it does a shitty job against the high-tech *viruses* (or parasites).

For the viruses, we have the *immune system* with the spleen (barracks of the standing army), the lymphatic system (highways) and the tonsils (gate guardians).

But they can only do their job, if you *move your body*, since the lymphatic vessels don't have a pump like the blood vessels.
Our whole body is from ground up designed for a lifestyle that includes a lot of walking. Immune system, digestion, activity level, you name it: They all depend on you moving your ass.

So how about doing that instead of deluding yourself that the use of some pill will keep you healthy, when the only actual reason that's the case is that you dwell in your basement all week long.
Which also is the reason for your grumpiness by the way.

Re:obvioiusly doesn't work (1)

rts008 (812749) | about a year ago | (#43779531)

At the "first sign of any illness", you have already been infected by the cold or flu virus for many days, due to the particular virus' incubation period.

The zinc is hardly more than a placebo, and if that makes you feel better, than great! But don't delude yourself that the viral infection has gone...it has not.

Blowing your nose when sick (1)

wadeal (884828) | about a year ago | (#43778313)

An interesting thought. When we're sick we continually blow our noses and try clear out as much of the mucus as possible. Perhaps the habits of nose blowing and picking are what causes us to get sick most of the time in the first place - our nose detects a virus and starts producing mucus to fight it off, we blow our nose removing the barrier to infection? Perhaps when we're sick we need to let our bodies do the work and let the mucus sit there sort of thing.

Re:Blowing your nose when sick (1)

Livius (318358) | about a year ago | (#43778531)

I suspect the infecting agent is messing with our metabolism, causing us to make a super-watery mucus that is less effective and an inconvenience that the body has to get rid of.

Contrary to evolutionary arguments (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43778539)

Well well, evolutionists have long argued that viruses are all bad. Turns out they do some good after all, contrary to what evolutionists used to always argue as evidence for evolution.

What's that you say? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43778619)

Bogies in my boogies?

Phage treatments (3)

staalmannen (1705340) | about a year ago | (#43778841)

As expected, lots of /.-ers fail to make the distinction between phages and (human-infecting) viruses... Phages have been tested as an interesting alternative to antibiotics. One disadvantage has been that they are very specific, which means that one often would have to apply many strains in order to fight an unclassified infection. On the other hand, with the advent of metagenomics, it has become clear that the composition of our commensal bacteria in the gut and on other places are critical for our health (both mental and physical) and that there may be several diseases caused by messing with this ecosystem by too frequent use of antibiotics (overlays of antibiotic usage and several diseases (heart diseases, diabetes, psychological diseases) per geographic area actually fit pretty nicely). An interesting application of phages could be to manipulate our commensal ecosystems in such a way that we ensure a "healthy" composition in our gut, lungs etc. Since the phages themselves are not alive, I have no idea what such a treatment would be called. It is not an antibiotic and it is not a probiotic... parabiotic? Nah... I will leave that to the marketers.

Overuse of triclosan (2)

Culture20 (968837) | about a year ago | (#43778891)

Perhaps the overuse of triclosan [slashdot.org] has another side effect beyond drug resistant bacteria? Reduced number of prey for the phages thus reduced number of phages, so a rapid influx of harmful bacteria might sweep past the low population of "defenders" before the phages have a chance to regrow their numbers?

Evolution of Symbiosis vs Virulence (1)

Baldrson (78598) | about a year ago | (#43779019)

Anything can evolve to be a symbiont as long as it is vertically transmitted rather than horizontally transmitted.

Vertical transmission means you close off the borders to transmission and only transmit from parent to child.

Origin of Viruses (1)

Fieryphoenix (1161565) | about a year ago | (#43781543)

Would it not be fascinating if it turned out that viruses began as "expelled" portions of animal immune systems? Heck, perhaps the virus DNA in our genes is sometimes more than simply the inherited remnants of past infection?

So don't spit it. (1)

macraig (621737) | about a year ago | (#43785051)

Makes you wonder about the idiots who feel compelled to expel the stuff all the time, doesn't it? They must get sick a lot. Maybe that's a good thing for the gene pool.

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