JAMES KING-HOLMES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JAMES KING-HOLMES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Dr Robert Knight, researcher on bioluminescence, pipettes a sample of Pholasin for tests of luminosity. Knight and his wife Dr Jan Knight 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 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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