Our current platform is based upon the discovery of zonulin, a paracrine signaling protein that regulates the paracellular permeability of cell barriers throughout the body. Epithelial and endothelial cell layers serve as barriers between body compartments and the environment, maintaining gradients and regulating substance and cellular exchange between these spaces. Physical barrier function is provided by the cells themselves and by a key "gate" that exists between the cells, the tight junction. Found in humans and other mammals, zonulin serves the function of transiently, physiologically and reversibly opening these tight junctions, which are present in barriers as diverse as the intestinal mucosa and the blood-brain barrier.
The zonulin technology is based upon the research of Alba's co-founder, Dr. Alessio Fasano, whose work has focused on the regulation of epithelial tight junctions, also known as Zona Occludens. Dr. Fasano first described a cholera-toxin derived protein, Zonula Occludens Toxin (ZOT), that reversibly opens intestinal tight junctions and discovered its' endogenous human counterpart, zonulin. He subsequently described zonulin's key roles in the physiological regulation of tight junctions in a wide range of epithelia beyond the intestine