Tuskegee, AL--After 20 years of research, Tuskegee Institute scientists have isolated a gene that causes some African American females’ feet to secrete a powerful enzyme that causes shrinkage. The gene, isolated by Dr. Otis T. Bunyon Jr., causes the foot to secrete an enzyme called “runovertin” which interacts with chemical compounds in the shoes that women wear. It is especially potent when in contact with sandals of any kind. “An excess of runovertin can actually make shoes shrink,” Dr. Bunyon said. The gene is most prevalent in African American women who wear sandals. Scientists said the combination of hot summer air and the “runovertin” enzyme can actually make sandals shrink as much as two to three sizes and give the appearance that a woman has bought the wrong shoes size. Dr. Bunyon said the effects of the disease are easily identifiable. Most cases are characterized by “drape over” which is identified as portions of foot that hang over the edge of the sandal. In most cases, the enzyme causes shrinkage that makes the heel stick out over the edge of a sandal as much as one to two inches. The chemical reaction produced by the enzyme and the leather can also cause frontal shrinkage of shoes leather and make it appear as if a woman’s toes are hanging over the front of her sandals, but in actuality it is the affect of the chemical reaction which causes the shoes to shrink. The enzyme can also cause “runover” where the edge of the foot “runs over” or “spills out” from the edge of the sandal. Although the disease is not fatal or even painful, it can be embarrassing by making it seem a woman can’t find a pair of sandals to fit when in reality it is the chemical reaction of the enzyme with the chemical components of the sandal that are really the culprit. The enzyme also causes excessive “shoe tow” which is characterized by a loud slapping noise as the shrinkage makes the sandal “slap” the pavement in an elongated dragging or slipping sound. In a side note, Dr. Bunyon said that the gene is also responsible for what is commonly known as “black toe,” which is characterized by a “little nasty, shriveled up toe with not enough nail to paint”. Bunyon said now that the gene has been identified, he and his team of scientists at Tuskegee Institute would seek a remedy for what is being called “sandalfoot.” If Dr. Bunyon is successful, he will have single-handedly removed blight on malls all over the country.