Posted by: Glow-worm PJ27 FEB 2013
The neon flying squid (Ommastrephes bartramii) has been in the news after a team of Japanese scientists described its mechanism of flight for the first time. The squid launches itself from the water by expelling a jet of water from its funnel-like stems and uses its fins and side-webbing to produce aerodynamic lift.
Research on squid is not confined to mode of transport, and much has been done to investigate the potential medicinal properties of squid ink, which is a mixture of proteins, lipids, glycoaminoglycans, plus various minerals. The main components are protein-polysaccharide complexes and melanin. The ink has been shown to be effective as a bioactive material in several applications. Sulphated squid-ink polysaccharides have shown to inhibit angiogenesis in developing tumours. They are being examined as potential candidates for development into drugs for preventing secondary tumours.
The enzyme tyrosinase, used in melanin synthesis, when extracted from the ink of Sepia officinalis, has been shown to inhibit the growth of Staphylococcus aureus. Several other studies have been conducted using ink from various species of cephalopods to examine activity against strains of Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae which produce beta-lactamases that are resistant to the newer extended-spectrum cephalosporins.
The antioxidative effects of squid ink have been shown to protect against cell damage from chemotherapeutic agents, including cyclophosphamide. During these studies it was noticed that in mice and rats the squid ink extract caused an increase in growth. Further research found that chickens treated with the squid ink supplement showed increased bodyweight gain when compared with a control group. It is hoped that the ink, which is often a by-product of the food industry in poor countries, could provide a low-cost additive to animal feeds