A new kind of surgical glue inspired by slug slime may completely change the way some of the most complex surgeries are done. This newly designed adhesive can stick to wet surfaces, and that includes the surface of a beating heart. This discovery may help create new ways of saving lives, even in cases of severe trauma.
Surgical Glue Inspired From Slug Slime
The new surgical glue is described by designers as “very stretchy” and “very tough” in a study that came out from Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. It was inspired by the slime from an Arion subfuscus slug, common throughout Western Europe and North America. Their sticky, yellow slime is well known for its ability to stick to multiple wet surfaces.
The material seems to work because it is made up of long chains of twisting polymers that can bind to each other and create an extremely strong matrix. This is named cross linking, and it is what makes many plastic materials hold their shape. It uses both covalent and ionic bonds between the molecules, creating a very dynamic and durable substance.
Initial tests have been conducted in pigs, and the results are extraordinary. Not only does the new adhesive show promise for things like open-heart surgery, but also for suturing severe trauma wounds. A series of tests on the pig heart showed it was able to maintain adhesion even when stretched to twice its original size and over ten-thousand beats. They measured it to be more than eight times as strong as the nearest conventional glue.
In tests done on rats, this new glue worked to save severed liver tissue. Not only did it hold better, but there were no cases of tissue death, as there often is with other glues. This material may help create new solutions in multiple surgical techniques.
Further research and tests will look to determine if the new glue could be just as efficient in humans as well.
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