Insect Muscle Bioactuator

Dorsal Vesicle

Caterpillar Dorsal Vesicle (arrows) is visible through the cuticle

Bioengineers are working with insect muscle because of its tolerance to a wide range of pH & temperature and ability to survive for months without a change of culture medium. Insect muscle can be coaxed to grow into desired shapes with molds and growth managed with ecdysone and other hormones. Studies of attachment of insect muscle to the larval cuticle have shown the process to be mediatated by factors in the epidermal cells. Developing insect muscle fibers can extend and contact tendon like cell precursors that help direct the growth of the muscle. *Engineers create “artificial tendons” to help control muscle growth and shape. Materials such as silk sutures and steel pins can be incorporated into articial tendons to allow the muscle to be easily handled and attached to a device. The ability to manipulate living tissue into device useful for a variety of human purposes is rapidly advancing.

*Self-assembled insect muscle bioactuators with long term function under a range of environmental conditions. A. L. Baryshyan, L. J. Domigan, B. Hunt, B. A. Trimmer and D. L. Kaplan. RSC Adv., 2014, 4, 39962-39968.
DOI: 10.1039/C4RA08438A

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
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