Scientists Designs Squid-Like Transparent Human Cells

Researchers turn human kidney cells translucent after introducing genes that express light-scattering proteins.

    2020/06/05

NSFW    IRVINE, CALIFORNIA — Scientists have engineered color-shifting abilities into human cells. Researchers say their project is inspired by female opalescent inshore squids that evade predators by changing their colors from translucent to opaque white.

According to the study in Nature Communications, squids and octopuses can cloak because their skin contains leucophore cells, which includes protein molecules called reflectins. This substance scatters light and creates an iridescent camouflage.

In a news release, the scientists say they took human embryonic kidney cells and introduced genes that express reflectin. These cells are then cultured and examined under a microscope.

The study's co-author was cited as saying the cells grew ball-shaped nanostructures throughout the cell bodies, and the spheres contain reflectin molecules. This means the reflectins behaved optically as if they were in squids.

Thumbnail credit: PEXELS / MARTIN
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