Ten Materials Inspired By Mother Nature (VIDEO)

The natural world is filled with strange, fascinating structures that are stronger, more flexible and more resilient than anything humans can make.

2. Insect wings for tissue engineering

Photo: Andy Wright/Flickr/CC
Photo: Andy Wright/Flickr/CC

Winged insects have resilin to thank for their ability to fly. Their wings are attached to the thorax by a hinge made up of this highly resilient, stretchy protein that can sustain millions of cycles.

Understanding the properties of resilin is the first step to replicating the flight systems of desert locusts and dragonflies. Dr. Chris Elvin from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) in Australia was the first to successfully synthesize resilin using recombinant technology.

Due to its beneficial properties, resilin is currently being explored for applications in tissue engineering and as artificial cartilage and muscles. Resilin could also be used in theranostics, which is the combination of drug delivery and disease diagnosis.

Ali Miserez is an assistant professor at the School of Materials Science and Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

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