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Slug-Inspired Adhesive Inspires New Medical Adhesive Technology

Posted By ASC, Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University announced promising findings after formulating a biocompatible adhesive that exhibits good bonding performance in wet conditions. The research team says that it has achieved adhesive bond strength that is comparable to that of cartilage. The adhesive combines strong bonding properties with the capacity to transfer and dissipate stress, a combination of properties that is new to medical adhesive technology.


The Dusky Arion slug provided researchers with the necessary inspiration. It is able to change the properties of the mucus it secretes when under threat, effectively bonding it in place so that predators cannot loosen it from surfaces. The mucus contains positively charged proteins. The researchers, therefore, emulated this with a double-layered hydrogel matrix coupled with a layer of positively charged polymers which act as the adhesive layer.


The bonds between substrate and adhesive use the forces of electrostatic attraction, covalent bonding to neighboring atoms, and physical interpenetration.


The matrix itself is of importance as it dissipates stress that would otherwise cause bonds to be broken. In laboratory testing, the research team found that the adhesive can tolerate three times as much stress as conventional medical adhesives. The adhesive shows promise for use in surgery and can remain intact even when used on highly mobile organs such as the heart. It would also be helpful in the development of medical devices such as sticky robots or could be used as a vehicle for drug delivery.

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