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Drs Robert & Jan Knight in their home laboratory

Drs Robert & Jan Knight in their home laboratory

H411/0062

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Credit

JAMES KING-HOLMES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JAMES KING-HOLMES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Drs Robert and Jan Knight, researchers on bioluminescence, in their home laboratory at Plymouth, England. This husband and wife team purified and named the bioluminescent substance Pholasin (R) produced by the "common piddock" marine mollusc Pholas dactylus. Experiments have shown that Pholasin (R) luminescence is switched on by the human body's defensive white blood cells. The amount of light emitted can be used to measure white blood cell (immune system) activation. Pholasin (R) may thus be of use in the early diagnosis of autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis or types of diabetes, and to assess the effectiveness of autoimmune drugs.

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