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Jellyfish Stingers As Biomimicry Syringes
Josh Ellis, 23 Aug 06

jellysting.jpg WorldChanging has covered the rising trend of biomimicry before: taking design cues directly from nature.

The latest example comes from Wilmington, DE company NanoCyte, which has filed a patent application for a dermal injection system utilizing the stinging cells of jellyfish.

Jellyfish and other Cnidaria have stinging cells called cnidocysts. These shoot a tiny hollow thread, at incredibly high speed, into anything that touches a "trigger" near the cell's opening, and then pump toxin through the thread into the target.

The inventors propose extracting the toxin without killing or triggering the cells, simply by incubating them for a few minutes at around 70°C. The empty cells could then be soaked in whatever chemical is to be injected, they say.

The cells would be applied to a patient's skin in a patch and then pressure combined with a few low-voltage electric pulses should trigger the cells to fire. They would shoot out their tubules, penetrate the skin and inject the new chemical. Because there is no toxin, the injection should be very quick and painless, and the threads would be extracted once the patch is removed.

Such a bio-based system could be used in the treatment of diabetes and skin diseases such as acne, as well as being a rather novel way of applying tattoos. It's not entirely clear if the system would use cells harvested from living jellyfish or grown as cultures, though -- after one nasty childhood incident at the beach in Corpus Christi, TX in 1982 -- I find it difficult to feel particularly concerned for the well-being of the jellyfish in question.

via: New Scientist

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Other than standing in awe in front of a huge tank filled with various jellyfish with a black background and black-lit for what seemed hours I've not had any encounters with them.

This seems pretty incredible. Hopefully it would not result in their "farming".

Posted by: pam on 23 Aug 06

did find your last comment unnecessary. was a good article until then.
hope you someday find a way to forgive nature for what it might have done to you over 25 years ago.

Posted by: mamat on 23 Aug 06

I doubt we'd have to farm them in the traditional sense(and don't see anyway to do it in a cost-effective and efficient manner). Cultures on the other hand, may be just what the doctor ordered.

Posted by: Chris on 23 Aug 06

Not to be nitpicky, but technically speaking this is bioutilization, not biomimicry. (Biomimicry is getting inspiration from nature for how we do things; bioutilization is using the actual organism or its remains for stuff, like wood in houses or horseshoe crab blood in cancer drugs.) Certainly both are part of neobiological industry, which we'll see more of in coming decades; we have to be a little more careful with bioutilization, to make sure we're harvesting sustainably, but it can be quite beneficial.

Posted by: Jeremy Faludi on 23 Aug 06

Jeremy: totally right, of course.

Mamat: I was kidding. I love the jellyfish. I love the nature. The nature is awesome.

Well, except for sunsets, which I find totally appalling.

Posted by: Josh Ellis on 24 Aug 06



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