The weirdest things have been used to create new materials, and frequently researchers turn to nature when the time comes to invent something new. This time around, the feelers on squid tentacles were the subject of human thought, and some rather interesting potentials have been unlocked.
The suckers on squid tentacles are remarkable for a number of reasons. The squid use it to grab prey and to drag it into their mouths. The inside of the feelers are ringed with tiny teeth that can latch on to pretty much anything, and the teeth themselves are super strong. They caught the eye of researchers in Singapore quite some time ago mainly because they are made entirely of proteins. Usually everything that is hard in biological organisms requires the presence of minerals, but SRTs, or squid sucker ring teeth do not, making them an entirely unique phenomenon. One of the proteins of the 37 that make up these teeth is a substance named “suckerin”, which happens to prove that scientists do in fact have a sense of humour. This protein has been copied, and can be reproduced in laboratory conditions, in numerous shapes and sizes.
These proteins form a structure known as a ß-sheet, the same kind of layered structure that makes spider webs, but instead of webs, this material makes a tooth like substance. The process of gaining it is very environmentally friendly, and leaves almost no waste products, according to experts from the ACS Nano. These qualities make it a candidate for replacing silk, but also make it a desirable choice for sustainable packaging besides various surgical uses.
These sheets have plenty of applications in dentistry, and can help with regenerating bone material, or of even making new teeth. They are a soft but extremely durable, easily malleable substance, and is completely biocompatible with the human body, making it an interesting candidate for bone graft material, and possibly even teeth could be replaced with the material. Of course, many times these “miracle cures” do not tend to be as miraculous as first thought, but sometimes they change the way we live our lives. The research is still in its initial phases, but researchers are hopeful.
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