In a landmark development, a group of researchers has cast artificial proteins into a new solid biomaterial that very closely mimics the elasticity of muscle.
The approach, detailed in the current issue of the journal Nature, opens new avenues to creating solid biomaterials from smaller engineered proteins, and has potential applications in material sciences and tissue engineering.
Hongbin Li from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, said the synthesised molecules mimic titin, a protein in muscle which absorbs elastic stress.
Li's team of researchers used the molecules to construct elastic bands of the size of wedding rings.
They are springy when stretched with moderate force, but soak up energy without stretching any further at higher loadings, reports New Scientist.
The researchers combined synthetic resolin, a springy molecule originally found in insects, with GB1, an energy-dissipating protein from bacteria.
Li hopes to combine the materials with human cells to construct artificial body parts.