Researchers find antibiotic in sweat

Monday, November 12, 2001

NEW YORK -- Your sweat might help you fight germs.

Researchers have found that human sweat contains a versatile antibiotic that might be on the front lines against disease-causing bacteria.

Scientists already knew that skin contains germ-fighting substances that go to work after skin injury and during wound healing. The new work found a protein in sweat that was much different chemically.

The work, published online Nov. 5 by the journal Nature Immunology, is presented by scientists at Eberhard Karls University in Tuebingen, Germany.

They call the newfound substance dermcidin. They found it in samples of human sweat and determined that the gene for it is active in sweat glands. They also showed that it was effective against several disease-causing bacteria, including those that cause skin infections like impetigo.

Dermcidin "probably plays a key role in the innate immune responses of the skin," the researchers wrote.

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