Harvard develops medical bio glue based on slug secretions

  • When slugs are threatened they release a sticky mucus to fix them in place 
  • An adhesive was developed from analysis of Arion subfuscus, a common slug
  • Experts used it to repair a hole in a pig heart that was slick with blood
  • Tests revealed it is significantly stronger than other medical adhesives
  • It is also non-toxic and does not cause tissue damage or adhesions

It could give a new meaning to the phrase feeling sluggish.

Doctors may soon be patching up cuts and wounds in your body with a glue inspired by slug slime.

As any gardener who has observed the revolting pests scaling a wet flowerpot will know, the sticky mucus exuded by the revolting pests has the power to stick to wet surfaces.

This is a significant improvement on most glues invented by humans, which require nice dry surfaces to stick, or are often too toxic to use on a human wound. 

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Slugs may not seem like the most hygienic inspiration for a medical breakthrough, but scientists have developed a new surgical glue based on their secretions. The wonder material could soon be used to seal wounds to soft and moist areas of the body, like the heart (pictured)

Slugs may not seem like the most hygienic inspiration for a medical breakthrough, but scientists have developed a new surgical glue based on their secretions. The wonder material could soon be used to seal wounds to soft and moist areas of the body, like the heart (pictured)

SLUG INSPIRED GLUE

The super-strong ‘tough adhesive’ is biocompatible and binds to tissues with a strength comparable to the body’s own resilient cartilage, even when they’re wet.

Tests revealed it bound together skin, cartilage, heart, artery, and liver with significantly greater strength than other medical adhesives.  

There was also no tissue damage or adhesions to surrounding tissues when applied to a liver haemorrhage in mice.

These side effects that were observed with both super glue and a commercial thrombin-based adhesive.

Previous studies found the unique glue of the Dusky Arion (Arion subfuscus), common in Europe and parts of the US was composed of a tough matrix peppered with positively charged proteins

This inspired the scientists to create a double-layered hydrogel consisting of an alginate-polyacrylamide matrix supporting an adhesive layer that has positively-charged polymers protruding from its surface.

It binds to biological tissues by lectrostatic attraction to negatively charged cell surfaces, covalent bonds between neighbouring atoms, and physical interpenetration, making the adhesive extremely strong. 

The bio-glue was developed by experts at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. 

Jianyu Li and colleagues crates a ‘tough adhesive’ modelled on the defensive mucus secreted by Arion subfuscus, a common slug which ranges from orange to brown and is commonly found in Britain and western Europe.  

The researchers say that in laboratory tests they successfully repaired a hole in a pig heart that was slick with blood.

The sealant did not leak when the pig’s heart beat, highlighting how the glue was flexible enough to cope with stretching.

The authors said that in experiments in rats simulating emergency surgery and sudden blood loss, the glue’s performance was similar to that of a haemostat.

This is a tool that looks a bit like a pair of scissors but which is used to clamp shut wounds during surgical procedures to stop bleeding.

Professor Donald Ingber, who worked on the project, said: ‘Nature has frequently already found elegant solutions to common problems.

‘It’s a matter of knowing where to look and recognising a good idea when you see one 

‘We are excited to see how this technology, inspired by a humble slug, might develop into a new technology for surgical repair and wound healing.’

The ‘tough adhesive’ is biocompatible and binds to tissues with a strength comparable to the body’s own resilient cartilage, even when they’re wet.

Tests revealed it bound together skin, cartilage, heart, artery, and liver with significantly greater strength than other medical adhesives.  

When slugs are threatened they release a sticky mucus to fix them in place, making it difficult for a predator to pry it off a surface. The adhesive developed (pictured) from analysis of this material is flexible, strong and non-toxic

When slugs are threatened they release a sticky mucus to fix them in place, making it difficult for a predator to pry it off a surface. The adhesive developed (pictured) from analysis of this material is flexible, strong and non-toxic

The bio-glue (pictured) was developed by experts at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University

The bio-glue (pictured) was developed by experts at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University

Jianyu Li and colleagues developed a 'tough adhesive' modelled on the defensive mucus secreted by Arion subfuscus, a common slug which ranges from orange to brown and is commonly found in Britain and western Europe (pictured)

Jianyu Li and colleagues developed a ‘tough adhesive’ modelled on the defensive mucus secreted by Arion subfuscus, a common slug which ranges from orange to brown and is commonly found in Britain and western Europe (pictured)

There was also no tissue damage or adhesions to surrounding tissues when applied to a liver haemorrhage in mice.

These side effects that were observed with both super glue and a commercial thrombin-based adhesive.

Professor Dave Mooney added: ‘The key feature of our material is the combination of a very strong adhesive force and the ability to transfer and dissipate stress, which have historically not been integrated into a single adhesive.’ 

The high-performance material could be used as a patch that can be cut to desired sizes and applied to tissue surfaces or as an injectable solution for deeper injuries. 

The researchers say that in laboratory tests they successfully repaired a hole in a pig heart that was slick with blood (pictured). The sealant did not leak when the pig's heart beat, highlighting how the glue was flexible enough to cope with stretching

The researchers say that in laboratory tests they successfully repaired a hole in a pig heart that was slick with blood (pictured). The sealant did not leak when the pig’s heart beat, highlighting how the glue was flexible enough to cope with stretching

The super-strong 'tough adhesive' is biocompatible and binds to tissues (pictured) with a strength comparable to the body's own resilient cartilage, even when they're wet 

The super-strong ‘tough adhesive’ is biocompatible and binds to tissues (pictured) with a strength comparable to the body’s own resilient cartilage, even when they’re wet 

Tests revealed it bound together skin, cartilage, heart, artery, and liver with significantly greater strength than other medical adhesives (pictured)

Tests revealed it bound together skin, cartilage, heart, artery, and liver with significantly greater strength than other medical adhesives (pictured)

It can also be used to attach medical devices to their target structures, such as an actuator to support heart function.

Previous studies found the unique glue of the Dusky Arion (Arion subfuscus), common in Europe and parts of the US was composed of a tough matrix peppered with positively charged proteins

This inspired the scientists to create a double-layered hydrogel consisting of an alginate-polyacrylamide matrix supporting an adhesive layer that has positively-charged polymers protruding from its surface.

It binds to biological tissues by lectrostatic attraction to negatively charged cell surfaces, covalent bonds between neighbouring atoms, and physical interpenetration, making the adhesive extremely strong. 

The full findings of the study were published in the journal Science.





Courtesy: Daily Mail Online

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