Nature Blog Network

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Sea Cucumbers Insire Brain Implant

Whenever I need a source of inspiration, I turned to an invertebrate too!

BBC reports:

"The response of a startled sea cucumber has inspired a new material that could one day be used to build brain implants for patients with Parkinson's disease.


The new material mimics this ability, and could be used to make advanced brain electrodes which are stiff when implanted, yet supple inside the body.

Adding water changes the state of the material."

Of course, the title of the BBC article states that these are sea slugs, but we all know that sea slugs and sea cucumbers are different phyla (right?). Here is how it works:
"The structure of the as yet un-named material mimics the skin of sea cucumbers which have collagen nanofibres embedded in a soft connective tissue.

"These creatures can reversibly and quickly change the stiffness of their skin," explained Dr Jeffrey Capadona, another member of the team.

"Normally it is very soft; but for example in response to a threat, the animal can activate its 'body armour' by hardening its dermis."
Check out the article for how this all relates to the brain and for some nice picture of marine inverts!

Hat tip to CK.

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