Creepy crawlies… to the rescue??
This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science saying…
LEECHES! Dark, slimy, and definitely gross. BUT, they’ve had their uses in medicine for hundreds of years. Are there any other types of worm that could help us?
Researchers from Osaka University investigated.
They worked with nematodes, a type of microscopic worm with a sense of smell. The team engineered a special gel-like sheath that sticks to the tough outer coating of nematodes. And the sheath can carry medicinal compounds!
The researchers found that even being encased in the covering, the nematodes were still able to swim and smell as normal! The sheath even PROTECTS the worm from environmental and chemical damage.
Researchers think the armored-up worms could be used to swim around in HUMAN bodies and deliver drugs to cancerous cells. Or, for other uses like agriculture, or manufacturing!
Maybe nematodes will WORM their way into our healthier future! They’ve already wormed their way into my HEART.
Mubarok, W., M. Nakahata, M. Kojima, and S. Sakai. 2022. Nematode surface functionalization with hydrogel sheaths tailored in situ. Materials today. Bio 15:100328.