Scientists in Singapore create "super biomaterials" from marine organisms

Squid sucker ring teeth are seen in a petri dish held by Dr Paul Guerette. -- PHOTO: NTU
Squid sucker ring teeth are seen in a petri dish held by Dr Paul Guerette. -- PHOTO: NTU
(From left) A*STAR's Dr Shawn Hoon, NTU Assistant Professor Ali Miserez and Dr Paul Guerette hold squid ring sucker teeth, mussels and a sea snail in a petri dish. New and hardy biomaterials, that are stronger than most plastics, are coming from
(From left) A*STAR's Dr Shawn Hoon, NTU Assistant Professor Ali Miserez and Dr Paul Guerette hold squid ring sucker teeth, mussels and a sea snail in a petri dish. New and hardy biomaterials, that are stronger than most plastics, are coming from an unusual source - seafood. -- PHOTO: NTU

New and hardy biomaterials, that are stronger than most plastics, are coming from an unusual source - seafood. Scientists have created new materials from squid, mussels and sea snails.

The team from Nanyang Technological University and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) used a new interdisciplinary approach integrating RNA sequencing and proteomics with material science. This process allows scientists to speed up the discovery and development of new and better biomaterials within months instead of years.

The squid-inspired biomaterial, for instance can be transformed into biocompatible films for food and drug packaging, and as cost-effective encapsulants to protect expensive drugs against heat and impact during transportation and storage.

The new biomaterials may be used widely as they are versatile and easily processed into different shapes and forms. They are also made using eco-friendly processes instead of the harsh chemicals used when producing plastics. The group's work was published this week in Nature Biotechnology, the world's top international scientific journal in the field.