Slug slime might not be the most pleasant subject to talk about, but according to a team of scientists, this unpleasantly sticky substance might come to have some very valuable uses.
The researchers turned to the glue produced by a particular European slug as it got defensive. Its properties could help create a new type of adhesive for wound healing and surgeries. One that would be both sticky and also flexible.
Slug Slime, Useful to the Biomedical World?
Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University researchers led by Jianyu Liu are behind this new study. They used the Arion subfuscus, an average European slug, as a source of inspiration.
Usual from almost all points of view, this is nonetheless capable of releasing a glue used as a defensive mechanism. In case of being attacked, this can help it adhere to a surface and not be pried away from it. But at the same time, the slug is also bendy.
Li and his team have been searching for a new and better surgical adhesive. One that could help repair an organ without risking fluid or air leaks or damage to the stitches or staples.
Li explains that there’s usually a problem with such glues as they are either too flexible or not sticky enough.
So the research team created a slug slime inspired patch. This is a gelatin-like patch that is made of 90 percent water from an algae-secreted compound. One with similar properties to the slime.
This should be as sticky ass super glue, and as stretchy as a rubber band. At the same time, it isn’t toxic to humans and also reportedly works well on sticky surfaces.
Slug Slime Inspired Patch Put to the First Tests
A series of tests on both animals and human cells followed. According to the study paper, the patch-like gelatin was successful in sticking to bloody pig skin and hearts. It also appeared to have caused no damage to the human cells involved in a 24 hours test.
Li and his colleagues are now working on a biodegradable version of their patch, one capable of disintegrating as the organ has healed.
However, there might still be some issues, as it would take years of testing before such a material could come to be used and available for humans.
Some other reasons, as stated by Li, are”I think the first reason is the cost would be a problem. And the second reason is, I’m not a biologist.”
Study results are available in the Science journal.
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