Orange County Business Journal

UCI Squid Research Could Help on Medical Devices

Paul Hughes Wednesday, July 16, 2014

University of California-Irvine materials science researchers have found a protein in squid skin that could be useful in developing medical devices.

Current biomedical products such as retinal implants and pacemakers rely on electrons to transmit diagnostic data or treat medical conditions, the school said.

UCI materials science researchers studied the common pencil squid to see how a protein called reflectin—which contains protons—enables the squid to change color and reflect light.

Lead researcher Alon Gorodetsky, assistant professor of chemical engineering and materials science at the Henry Samueli School of Engineering, said protons might be preferable in man-made uses since they more closely reflect how living organisms naturally transmit internal information.

Because reflectin is soft Gorodetsky said it might conform better to flexible surfaces or be less likely to be rejected by a human body. The protein could also be modified to specific temporary uses and allowed to decompose when no longer needed.

Researchers hope to develop the protein for “optimum functionality in specific devices,” Gorodetsky said.