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Insect-inspired super rubber moves toward practical uses in medicine

Date:
July 31, 2013
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
The remarkable, rubber-like protein that enables dragonflies, grasshoppers and other insects to flap their wings, jump and chirp has major potential uses in medicine, scientists conclude. A new article evaluates the latest advances toward using a protein called resilin in nanosprings, biorubbers, biosensors and other applications.

The remarkable, rubber-like protein that enables dragonflies, grasshoppers and other insects to flap their wings, jump and chirp has major potential uses in medicine, scientists conclude in an article in the journal ACS Macro Letters. It evaluates the latest advances toward using a protein called resilin in nanosprings, biorubbers, biosensors and other applications.

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Kristi Kiick and colleagues explain that scientists discovered resilin a half-century ago in the wing hinges of locusts and elastic tendons of dragonflies. The extraordinary natural protein tops the best synthetic rubbers. Resilin can stretch to three times its original length, for instance, and then spring back to its initial shape without losing its elasticity, despite repeated stretching and relaxing cycles. That's a crucial trait for insects that must flap or jump millions of times over their lifetimes. Scientists first synthesized resilin in 2005 and have been striving to harness its properties in medicine.

Kiick's team describes how their own research and experiments by other scientists are making major strides toward practical applications of resilin. Scientists have modified resilin with gold nanoparticles for possible use in diagnostics, engineered mosquito-based resin to act like human cartilage and developed a hybrid material for cardiovascular applications. "This increasing amount of knowledge gained from studies on natural resilin and resilin-like polypeptides continues to inspire new designs and applications of recombinant resilin-based biopolymers in biomedical and biotechnological applications," the scientists state.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Linqing Li, Kristi L. Kiick. Resilin-Based Materials for Biomedical Applications. ACS Macro Letters, 2013; 635 DOI: 10.1021/mz4002194

Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Insect-inspired super rubber moves toward practical uses in medicine." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 July 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130731105600.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2013, July 31). Insect-inspired super rubber moves toward practical uses in medicine. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130731105600.htm
American Chemical Society. "Insect-inspired super rubber moves toward practical uses in medicine." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130731105600.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

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