Unusual accomplice for Team GBR
The BBC is reporting that Britain’s sailing squad is using a secret weapon going into the Olympics – an extract from a mollusc known as the common piddock.
They have been using a blood test using luminous chemicals taken from the common piddock, a marine mollusc. Its developers, a husband and wife team of scientists based in Plymouth, claim it can detect the earliest signs of infection, or even overtraining. This could allow treatment to be started, or extra rest taken, they say. What it allows them to do is, if an athlete is feeling tired, to carry out a test which can reveal if an infection is likely to be present.
The Piddock is a clam-like creature that burrows into rocks around the British shoreline. It contains a protein called pholasin, which gives off light when it comes into contact with ‘free radical’ chemicals.
High concentrations of these are normally released by white blood cells as a counter-measure against infection, and as such, they can be present even if no symptoms have yet been felt.
The test uses a pinprick of blood, which is mixed with pholasin in a test tube, and the resulting light levels emitted measured.
Dr Jan Knight, who has been working on the chemical with husband Robert for the last two decades, said that she was ‘excited’ by the thought of it helping British Olympians.
She said: ‘What it allows them to do is, if an athlete is feeling tired, to carry out a test which can reveal if an infection is likely to be present. This could allow antibiotics to be started earlier than normal, if that is appropriate.’
Full Story on the BBC.