Biomimicry is a copy of the method or techniques of biology or nature for human applications.
This is way man is an innovation inspired by nature. Many of nature techniques are adapted by man.
You can find many applications of biomimicry on to non living forms like bullet trains etc.
But even the modern medicine employs biomimicry deliberately. This extends to cure the disease, prevent the disease and also diagnose the diseases.
The only difference is instead of using the principles of biology in non-living forms, here it is used in living forms.
Biomimicry in medicine also extends to aspects like the treatment principle, production of drugs and also for effective delivery of drugs.
Biomimicry examples in medicine
1. Production & Use of antibiotics: Antibiotics are the drugs which have a lethal effect on disease causing microbes. Antibiotics have saved the world from many epidemics.
“Alexander Fleming saw that a certain species of fungi grew well in presence of other destructive bacteria and microbes.
He observed that no bacteria was growing around the point of the fungi. He then isolated the substance which was responsible for inhibiting those foreign bacteria.”
When this isolated substance was given to infected humans, it cured the disease.
The isolated substance called “antibiotic” was used to eradicate the disease caused by bacteria and other microbes in humans
Latter on many scientists searched for all possible microbial inhibiting substances from similar fungi. This phenomenon is still a life saving method for humans from dreadful diseases.
Even in the intestine there is friendly bacteria which restrict other infections. If that friendly bacteria is killed by the drugs we take, then we are prone to severe infections.
Thus the ability of one bacteria to inhibit other bacteria by a substance is used for health.
2. Use & Production of vaccines: No foreign substance should enter into the body other than oral route. If so, the body tries to remove the foreign particle by engulfment through white blood cells (W.B.C cells) and neutralizing by antibodies.
These antibodies are so specific against the said substance and do not attack any other substances. Further the memory for production of said antibiotics is always present and ready for combating future infiltration of foreign substance.
This phenomenon is used in prevention of diseases. Dreadful infections like polio, TB etc. are kept in control by vaccinating children.
These vaccines are dead forms or parts of disease causing bacteria and virus. Hence when administered, bodies immune system is stimulated to produce corresponding antibodies. So when there is actual infection, due to memory of immune system for previous exposure, antibodies are produced profusely to prevent the growth of disease causing microbes.
Similarly in Sera which is a mixture of antibodies is produced to treat diseases or toxins. For example, snake bite poison when enters the body, antibodies are released against it. But the time span for the process is slower than the poisonous effect taking place leading to death.
To counter this poison anti-venom sera are used. These anti-venom sera are produced by injecting snake poison devoid of lethal property into animals like horses. The healthy animal will produce profuse amounts of anti-venom anti bodies which can neutralize the poison.
These anti-venom antibodies are used in health care to neutralize the poison in case of snake bites.
3.rDNA technology: Many biological like insulin, enzymes, hormones can’t be synthesized artificially. Even if synthesized body may not accept the product due to lack of compatibility. For this purpose biotechnology mimics the principle of DNA expression in rDNA technology.
In this technology we insert a gene capable to produce desired hormones or product into a bacteria. Then we encourage the bacteria to produce the desired product by expressing the inserted gene. The desired product is exactly similar to that formed inside the body and hence there are no compatibility issues.
Biomimicry for treatment (principle).
4.Use of HIV to control leukemia: This was an experimental result in a recent leukemia (excess rate of WBC forming cancer) treatment in England. HIV i.e human immuno virus is one which attacks WBC’s and kills human immune responses. To a patient suffering from leukemia which was not controlled by drugs, the doctors administered a HIV devoid of immune destruction. These virus attacked the WBC cells and kept their number under control without inducing AIDS to the patient. This was a trial and not fully accepted procedure.
5. Biomimicry as a sole principle of homeopathy: In homeopathy a treatment relies on biomimicry. For instance if a person has fever (high temperature), he is administered Aconite. Aconite has a natural property to rise the body temperature even if consumed by a healthy individual. So when administered to person suffering from fever of 101 degree F, the chances are the temperature rises further to 104 deg F. The body has a natural tendency to fight disease or disorder. So initially if it was fighting 101 deg F and now it starts fighting with 104 deg F. Drug dilutes and temperature comes to 101 deg F. But since body got habituated to fight 104 deg F, 101 deg F is easier to fight and overcomes it. This is supposed to be the principle in homeo treatment.
If some agree or not, homeopathy stands to be the most better method of treatment than Allopathy in non-surgical manner due to this biomimicry.
6. Biomimicry in drug delivery: Many drugs are required to function at particular location in the body to avoid side effects or sometimes they get degrade by body metabolism even before they reach the target of action. To overcome this bio mimicry is done by
a) Use of nano-particles: Food material like carbohydrates and proteins immediately after digestion get absorbed by villi in small intestine and enter hepatic circulation. Liver is a principal organ of metabolism hence any drug which takes this route gets metabolized fast. But fats (especially small chain fatty acids) after digestion get absorbed by lacteal glands (lymphatic tract) instead of villi in the intestine. These do-not get into hepatic circulation avoiding prior metabolism.
To make this route possible for the drug to travel without prior metabolism, nano particles are used, Nano particles are made of polymer consisting of lipids and even their size is very small in nano-meter range. Hence drugs are incorporated into them to escape hepatic circulation and avoid untimely metabolism.
b) Chemotactic drug delivery: When there is some pain or wound in the body, the WBC migrate and get collected at the region of injury by chemo-tactic attraction. Similarly some chemicals are incorporated along with the drug such that the drug is migrated directly to the point of action.
Thus above are the biomimicry examples applied in health care and medicine for human advantage.