A New Surgical Adhesive Developed to Seal Wound With Inspiration from Slug Mucus

Taking inspiration from the mucus secreted by slugs, a group of researchers has developed an experimental surgical glue that can provide a substitute to staples and sutures for closing wounds. Even though there are some medical glues that already exist, they either are not particularly flexible, or adhere weakly, or cannot be used frequently in very wet settings.


To surpass these issues, scientists at the Harvard and few other Research Centers determined to study from slugs, which can produce extremely adhesive mucus as a protection mechanism. Jianyu Li said, “Essentially, we can resolve all those problems linked to previous adhesives.” The trick of slugs is to produce a material that not only develops strong links on wet exteriors but also has a matrix that disperses energy at the adhesion point, making it extremely flexible.

The artificial form of this strong adhesive is anchored on the similar principles and in an array of tests demonstrated it to attach strongly to the skin, cartilage, organs, and tissue of a pig. It was also verified to be non-toxic to the human cells. In an experiment, the new adhesive was tested for wound sealing in a blood-covered heart of a pig and it effectively upheld a leak-free cap after the heart was deflated and inflated numerous times. In another instance, it was applied to a cut in a liver of a rat and did just as well as a hemostat—a surgical device frequently utilized to control bleeding in operations.

David Mooney, Bioengineering Professor at Harvard, said, “There is a range of probable uses and in certain settings, this can substitute staples and sutures, which can cause injury and be tough to place in some conditions.” Mooney and team envision the new glue will be prepared in sheets and slashed to size, even though an injected version is also developed by them for sealing deep lacerations. The injection would be toughened with the use of ultraviolet light, similar to dental fillings.

Even before this invention, scientists have been motivated by the nature to develop better medical adhesives. Around 4 years ago, a research team had made glue encouraged by the underwater sticking features of mussels. However, Mooney considers slugs triumph easily in terms of flexibility and stickiness.

The researchers are filing for patents, even though it will need a commercial firm to then license the invention and take it into the stage of human clinical trials. Mooney said, “These both exhibit that the features of slug mucus can motivate the pattern of new adhesives, and these glues have significantly superior properties compared to the existing medical adhesives.”

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