JellyfishResearchers in Japan have finally found a use for the huge excess of jellyfish that have been turning up in Japanese waters in recent years - as a source of skincare products. Kiminori Ushida, from the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research in Wako Japan, found that the mucus from five jellyfish species studied was rich in a family of slimy proteins called mucins. They help to lubricate mucosal surfaces such as the front of the eye and the mouth, but they play a big role in cosmetics where they help to retain moisture, and are also the basis of artificial mucus preparations. But the normal source is not ideal - because they're extracted from cow salivary glands and pig stomachs. Jellyfish have become a big problem in Japan in recent years, and their increasing numbers have been blamed on over-fishing, climate change and the creation of artifical reefs. They've even blocked up the cooling water intake of a nuclear power station at Hiroshima in the last few years, forcing the power station to temporarily cut its output whilst the blockage was cleared. Now maybe what was previously turning into a nuisance, and occasionally a restaurant delicacy, will turn into an asset for the cosmo-ceuticals industry...


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