As children, many of us were in awe of a slug’s clinging ability, but for Benjamin Freedman, PhD from the Wyss Institute at Harvard University his fascination and curiosity of the slug led to an innovative medical discovery. He developed a surgical adhesive, an internal “Band-Aid” that can bind tissue and adhere to wet and dynamic surfaces inside the body – including a heart, lung, tendons, cartilage, and bone.
Freedman was inspired by the “slime trail of a slug,” or more specifically, the mucus secreted by the Dusky Arion slug. Combined with a super-strong hydrogel (made up of 90% water), this super-sticky, stretchy surgical glue can stretch up to 20 times its length!
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According to Freedman, the hydrogel itself is a hybrid of two different types of polymers: a seaweed extract called alginate that is used to thicken food, and polyacrylamide, which is the main material in soft contact lenses. Its toughness and resiliency can even measure up to the body’s natural cartilage.
This non-toxic surgical adhesive can adjust to movement including the beating of a heart and still sticks with the presence of blood. This less-invasive, surgical glue could essentially “outperform and even replace existing polyacrylamide- and suture-based wound closure methods.” So, traditional wound closure techniques, including stitches, staples, and clips could be a thing of the past.