A report by scientists from the Netherlands published in the FASEB Journal identifies a compound in human saliva that greatly speeds wound healing. Scientists found that Histatin, a small protein in saliva previously only believed to kill bacteria was responsible for the healing. Because saliva is a complex liquid with many components, the next step was to identify which component was responsible for wound healing. Using various techniques the researchers split the saliva into its individual components, tested each in their wound model, and finally determined that Histatin was responsible. “This study not only answers the biological question of why animals lick their wounds,” said Gerald Weissmann, MD, Editor-in-Chief of the FASEB Journal, “it also explains why wounds in the mouth, like those of a tooth extraction, heal much faster than comparable wounds of the skin and bone. It also directs us to begin looking at saliva as a source for new drugs
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