Biting Innovations of Mosquito-Based Biomaterials and Medical Devices
Mosquitoes are commonly viewed as pests and deadly predators by humans. Despite this perception, investigations of their survival-based behaviors, select anatomical features, and biological composition have led to the creation of several beneficial technologies for medical applications. In this review, we briefly explore these mosquito-based innovations by discussing how unique characteristics and behaviors of mosquitoes drive the development of select biomaterials and medical devices. Mosquito-inspired microneedles have been fabricated from a variety of materials, including biocompatible metals and polymers, to mimic of the mouthparts that some mosquitoes use to bite a host with minimal injury during blood collection. The salivary components that these mosquitoes use to reduce the clotting of blood extracted during the biting process provide a rich source of anticoagulants that could potentially be integrated into blood-contacting biomaterials or administered in therapeutics to reduce the risk of thrombosis. Mosquito movement, vision, and olfaction are other behaviors that also have the potential for inspiring the development of medically relevant technologies. For instance, viscoelastic proteins that facilitate mosquito movement are being investigated for use in tissue engineering and drug delivery applications. Even the non-wetting nanostructure of a mosquito eye has inspired the creation of a robust superhydrophobic surface coating that shows promise for biomaterial and drug delivery applications. Additionally, biosensors incorporating mosquito olfactory receptors have been built to detect disease-specific volatile organic compounds. Advanced technologies derived from mosquitoes, and insects in general, form a research area that is ripe for exploration and can uncover potential in further dissecting mosquito features for the continued development of novel medical innovations.