Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) that build up in the environment, particularly the ocean, have chemical properties that also seem to help them accumulate in our bodies and slow degradation.
Now, scientists from the US have determined how ones of these pollutants bind to one of the proteins in our body tasked with removing contaminants. Published in the journal Science Advances, they examined a highly conserved “detox” protein (i.e. it is present in many organisms meaning it is an essential gene) and how it is effected by numerous POPs.
They found that it was inhibited by a number of closely related organochlorine pesticides and demonstrated this with the mouse and human version of the protein. They say it is particularly of importance as these can build up in breast milk and babies have very little of the detox protein in the first place.
They suggest that now they have determined the mechanism of how the POPs bind to the protein chemicals could be designed that would counteract this and allow them to be flushed from the body.