Slug Slime Inspires a New Type of Surgical Glue

For a glue that holds up inside the body, turn to the humble slug, Arion subfuscus. A new super-sticky material mimics slug slime’s ability to stick on slick wet surfaces and could lead to more effective medical adhesives.

The material has two parts: a sticky layer that attaches to a surface, and a shock-absorbing layer that reduces strain. That makes the adhesive less likely to snap off.

Researchers tested the material as a surgical adhesive in a number of different scenarios: It stuck to pig skin and liver. It latched on to a beating pig’s heart, even when the surface was coated in blood. It sealed up a heart defect, preventing liquid from leaking even when the organ was inflated and deflated tens of thousands of times. And it was less toxic in the body than a commonly used commercialized tissue adhesive, researchers report July 28 in Science.

The researchers hope the material could someday be used in surgical procedures in place of invasive sutures and staples.

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