Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Nanobiotechnology Week Super Fly
01 April 2014

Super Fly

The fruit fly (Drosophila) has a secret that would give Iron Man Tony Stark something to think about – an invisible suit that can be signalled to form a tough outer shell, protecting it from external forces. Pictured on the top row, scanning electron microscopy (SEM) shows an unfortunate mosquito larva (which lacks such natural protection) being crushed by a sudden drop in pressure. But the larva on the bottom has not only survived the same stress, it’s also moving around as normal. Its secret is an artificial 'nanosuit', 600 times smaller than Robert Downey Jr., which grants the mosquito special powers like the fruit fly. Reproducing the chemical makeup of the fruit fly’s suit may not be destined to make us all superheroes, but perhaps it could be put to good use as a microscopic shield to help wounds heal.

Written by John Ankers

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