Research scientists at the Osaka Bioscience Institute made a shocking discovery when researching human vision.
Scientists and doctors worldwide will now need to add a new word to their expansive vocabulary, particularly those involved with human vision. Pikachurin is a protein discovered and named by a group of 18 Japanese research scientists at the Osaka Bioscience Institute. The protein's function and properties bear similarity to its namesake Pokemon, Pikachu.
The protein is used for transmitting signals (electrical impulses) from the human eyes to the brain. It is also used heavily in the eyes to assist tracking of moving objects. Without Pikachurin, these electrical impulses sent from the eyes to the brain would take around three to four times as long to reach their destination.
This is not the first time that scientists have named biological components after video game characters. In 2005, a gene involved in cancer was named Pokemon, short for POK erythriod myeloid ontogenic factor. The name was changed to Zbtb7 after Nintendo subsidiary Pokemon USA threatened legal action due to press reports declaring "Pokemon causes cancer." Additionally, Sonic Hedgehog, a protein involved in mammalian organ development and brain organization, has already established itself in college textbooks.
Besides showing that scientists can be in tune with popular culture, the discovery of Pikachurin has the potential of aiding treatment for diseases like Retinitis Pigmentosa, a degenerative disease of the retina.
Aaron Kaluszka contributed to this article.