Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Jellyfish that can get under your skin

Imagine a farm in the ocean, where cowboys corral sea life instead of livestock.
While there is not yet talk of a jellyfish stampede, a team of Israeli scientists have taken a natural mechanism in sea animals used for 700 million years and have turned it into a medical advance that could make injections pain-free.

Researchers at NanoCyte startup have discovered a way to take the miniscule stingers found in sea creatures and fill them with important pharmaceuticals that can be delivered painlessly through the skin of a patient. A person simply rubs on a cream loaded with sea-life stingers and embedded with a drug such as insulin onto the skin, activating the stingers which inject the drug.

In the near future, this may mean no more daily injections for diabetics, no more injections at the dentist office and no more injections before surgery.

Anyone who has been stung by a jellyfish knows how fast the pain can travel. Based on this mechanism, NanoCyte investigated non-toxic versions of similar animals, the sea anemone, and discovered a way to put its sting to good use. Sea anenomes may look like flowers, but they are a boneless animal which prey on other sea life. They live in the sea usually attached to the sea bed or rock, but can move around slowly.

Read the rest here.

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