Sea Cucumber invents brain implant

seacucumber.jpgResearchers at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland have developed a new material inspired by a defense mechanism in sea cucumbers. If you have ever touched or handled a Sea Cucumber you know that the squishy body suddenly becomes hard. When threatened, they can harden their skin within seconds. This behaviour is made possible by the structure of the sea cucumber’s skin, whose deeper layers contain a network of collagen nanofibres enveloped within a viscous and elastic matrix of connective tissue. The arrangement of the collagen can be transiently modified, in response to a protein secreted by nerve cells found in the skin, which alters the chemical bonds between the fibres. One of the uses for this new material is for brain implants. The material could be stiff to make implanting it easier, then become flexible in the water-rich brain to more closely resemble surrounding tissue. more …