antiseptic proteins in our teardrops, have jaws that latch on and
chomp through rows of cell walls of harmful bugs like someone
hungrily devouring an ear of corn.
"Those jaws chew apart the walls of the bacteria that are trying
to get into your eyes and infect them," said molecular biologist
and chemistry professor at University of California Irvine Gregory
Weiss, who co-led the project with associate professor of physics
and astronomy Philip Collins.
The research could prove critical to long-term work aimed at
diagnosing cancers and other illnesses in their very early stages,
the journal Science reports.
The researchers decoded the protein's behaviour by building one of
the world's smallest transistors -- 25 times smaller than similar
circuitry in laptop computers or smartphones.
Individual lysozymes were glued to the live wire and their eating
activities were monitored, according to a University of California
"Our circuits are molecule-sized microphones," Collins said. "It's
just like a stethoscope listening to your heart, except we're
listening to a single molecule of protein."
It took years for the university scientists to assemble the
transistor and attach single-molecule teardrop proteins. The
scientists hope the same novel technology can be used to detect
cancerous molecules. It could take a decade to figure out but
would be well worth it, said Weiss, who lost his father to lung
"If we can detect single molecules associated with cancer, then
that means we'd be able to detect it very, very early," Weiss
said. "That would be very exciting because we know that if we
treat cancer early, it will be much more successful, patients will
be cured much faster, and costs will be much less."