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Power Biotech

Mimicking Electric Eel Cells 71

Posted by kdawson
from the positively-shocking dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A team of US researchers has asked the following question in the new field of systems biology: 'Do we understand how a cell produces electricity well enough to design one, and to optimize that design?' They believe it should be possible to build artificial cells replicating the electrical behavior of electric eel cells. In fact, such artificial cells could deliver better performance — as much as 40% more energy than real eel cells, a computer model suggests. They could be used to power medical implants and other small devices."
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Mimicking Electric Eel Cells

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  • Re:Is this like... (Score:5, Informative)

    by lysergic.acid (845423) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @07:10PM (#25267869) Homepage

    true, but there are other advantages.

    for instance, if electronic implants become more mainstream, it would be useful for certain applications to power the implanted device via electrocytes rather than a rechargeable battery. rechargeable batteries, like all chemical batteries, wear out over time, and need to be replaced. this may require invasive surgery. if instead the patient were also given a bioimplant of electrocytes around the electronic device, then there would be guaranteed power source for the rest of the patient's life since the electrocytes would be self-replicating.

    and the inefficiency of metabolic (or catabolic in this case) processes isn't an issue. most people living in developed nations have an excess of fat stores and energy reserves. and outside of extreme survival situations, most people don't have to ration their food intake or energy expenditure. it's not like having some electrocyte implants will cause a person to eat more food. an average person's food intake has nothing to do with their energy expenditure. most people can probably use burning some extra calories once in a while.

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