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Shark Skin found in Hospitals

Posted February 15, 2011 12:00 AM by LakeGrl

Sharks are considered by many to be extremely dangerous eating machines with razor-sharp teeth. This is a reputation they've earned as predators of the vast oceans. Yet, scientists are finding out that they are actually biological marvels.

Scientist and biologists have been investigating sharks for several years and have found that their skin has properties that inhibit the growth of barnacles and algae. In fact, in 2005, the U.S. Navy started using a synthetic coating designed to mimic shark skin on ships and found that the ships stayed clean even at slower speeds. This cut the cost and frequency of expensive cleaning in dry dock.

It is the pattern of the skin of the shark that is the specific marvel. It is made up of curved, grooved scales similar to teeth that face backwards, creating a smooth surface that reduces drag. The scales also make it hard for barnacles and algae to adhere to it; the strong glue of a barnacle can only penetrate so far into the rough surface of the scales, preventing it from sticking.

This design has proved to be useful to humans, not just as a coating for ships, but also as a bacteria-resistant surface in hospitals. Scientists at Sharklet Technologies, a Florida-based biotech company, have been studying shark skin for the interesting fact that bacteria just doesn't seem to stick to it. They have found that a synthetic version of the shark's skin is resistant to bacterial like E-coli and MRSA. Right now, there are products that can reduce bacteria on high-touch surfaces by up to 80%. Tests are being done on the use of shark skin-like surfaces in areas that are more difficult to clean, such as respirator tubes and catheters.

It intrigues me that there are so many things in the natural world right around us that can benefit mankind. This is all the more reason to study, preserve, and protect our environment. What do you think? Should we now consider sharks in a different light? Is there more out there to discover?

Photo courtesy of Sharklet Technologies

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Anonymous Poster
#1

Re: Shark Skin found in Hospitals

02/15/2011 10:29 AM

This is so remarkable, the sad thing is the greatest environmental concern on earth is really MAN himself. We are truly the only living thing that lives completely out of harmony with our own habitat.

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Anonymous Poster
#2

Re: Shark Skin found in Hospitals

02/16/2011 1:19 AM

Thanks to the innovations.., but I would like to bring into light the risk that do we kick-start poaching by these advents...

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#3

Re: Shark Skin found in Hospitals

02/16/2011 5:13 AM

The Australian swim team used suits that mimiked shark skin to reduce drag.

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#4

Re: Shark Skin found in Hospitals

02/16/2011 10:13 AM

This is just an other example of how solutions to many complex questions can be found in nature. It always amazes me.

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#5
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Re: Shark Skin found in Hospitals

02/17/2011 1:11 PM

Yep, it's amazing what can happen with 400 million years or so of R&D.

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