Scientists at King’s are working on creating versions of starfish compounds in the search for treatments for inflammatory conditions such as asthma, hay fever and arthritis.
Most man-made objects placed in sea water become covered with marine life, but starfish manage to keep their surface clear. This non-stick property is particularly interesting to King’s scientists working on finding new ways to treat inflammation in humans.
The species of starfish researchers are looking at is the spiny starfish (Marthasterias glacialis), and in particular the chemicals found in the slimy substance that covers its body.
Inflammatory conditions are caused when the immune system spirals out of control in response to an injury or infection.
White blood cells normally flow easily through blood vessels, but when the immune system is exacerbated, they build up and stick to the blood vessel wall. This can cause tissue damage.
Researchers say that a treatment based on starfish slime could coat blood vessels in the same way the slimy substance covers the sea creature, and prevent this from happening.