Scientists have found a non-stick benefit in the slimy material that covers the body of Marthasterias glacialis, a species of spiny starfish found on the west coast of Scotland. The investigation of the spiny starfish material is being conducted by marine biotechnology company GlycoMar Ltd. in association with King's College London (KCL).
According to a KCL report, the material that covers the body of the starfish is non-stick in such way as to deflect or repel larvae, bacteria, viruses, etc. that try to adhere to its surface. This action initially was examined to treat inflammatory conditions in humans such as asthma, hay fever and arthritis, and the researchers propose it could treat human inflammation by coating the blood vessels to prevent the agglomeration of white blood cells that lead to inflammation and tissue damage.
The team has identified promising compounds and is now working on creating versions of them in the laboratory. They reportedly want to create a treatment that is inspired by substances found on starfish rather than one that is made from it.
While initially intended for medical applications, as this non-stick action is further investigated, it could potentially benefit personal care in anti-inflammatory applications or, depending on its mechanism of action, even adding water repellency/resistance to sunscreens.