Slug-Inspired Glue Might Mend Hearts and Organs
A surgical glue described by researchers as "very stretchy and very tough" was inspired by the sticky, yellow-orange slime secreted by a slug, Arion subfuscus, a.k.a., the Dusky Arion. As reported in a study published in the journal Science, the glue — developed by researchers at Harvard University's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering — is so sticky it can adhere to slick, wet, and expanding and contracting surfaces, including a beating heart.
In fact, the slime-like glue is so strong that it retains its adhesive and tensile qualities even when applied to pig skin, arteries, and liver tissue while being stretched up to 14 times its original length, or stretched to twice its original length tens of thousands of times. Researchers were able to provide the artificial glue with its astonishing flexibility and strength, according to lead study author Jianyu Li, by mimicking the polymer-like structure of the Dusky Arion's distinctive slime.
The glue needs far more clinical testing before making its way into operating rooms, but the researchers "have a company working on trying to push our material to clinical applications, and we have a patent pending," Li told Live Science.