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Power Biotech

Mimicking Electric Eel Cells 71

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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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 05, 2008 @07:43PM (#25268089)

    it would need to be sealed and unable to take advantage of the bodies supply of ATP.

    Just want to correct one thing. The body doesn't have a supply of ATP. ATP exists extracellularly in very low levels, probably only as a signaling molecule. This article suggests that energy be created by mitochondria or a modified oxidative bacteria.

  • by rmstar ( 114746 ) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @07:51PM (#25268153)

    If systems biology has something, it is unrealized potential. It is a field with a huge potential, but the only part of that potential that has been realized, and probably the only one that will ever be realized, is the part where you can get shiploads of grant money with it. Other than that, it is just bad maths applied by inexperienced PhD students to hopeless problems based on crappy data. The supervisors, in case anyone is interested, are way too busy writing grant applications.

    Actually, the "experienced" folks are so busy writing grants, that they leave the refereeing to ... inexperienced PhD students! That's why so much junk gets published, and why so many decent articles get rejected for outrageous reasons.

    So all I can say is, I hope those eels give the systems biology PhD students a good "eelectric" shock. Maybe that helps them wisen up so they become Quants instead.

    Greetings from the systems biology trenches,

    -- rmstar.

  • Re:Is this like... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by geckipede ( 1261408 ) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @10:09PM (#25269003)
    There's no reason why they have to be let loose in the body. The only requirement is that tissue fluid be allowed to get in to provide sugars or ATP, so you can stick them in a cage lined with semipermeable membrane. The article hinted that they would be used this way.

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson