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Inspired by spiny-headed worms, new microneedle adhesive 3x stronger than surgical staples in skin graft fixation

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Posted April 17, 2013
The Karp lab invented a bio-inspired flexible microneedle adhesive patch (2 x 2 cm) that can stick to soft tissues. Credit: Karp lab.

The Karp lab invented a bio-inspired flexible microneedle adhesive patch (2 x 2 cm) that can stick to soft tissues. Credit: Karp lab.

A parasitic worm may hold the answer to keeping skin grafts firmly in place over wounds, according to a new study by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH).

The study will be published in the April 16, 2013 issue of Nature Communications. The research team, led by Jeffrey Karp, PhD, BWH Division of Biomedical Engineering, Department of Medicine, senior study author, invented a microneedle inspired by Pomphorhynchus laevis, a spiny-headed worm that lives in the intestines of its hosts, in this case fish. The worm securely attaches to the host’s intestinal wall by penetrating, and then plumping up its elongated, cactus-like head into the intestinal tissue. “Dr. Karp and his collaborators continue to look to nature to find new ways to solve real problems in medicine,” said Scott Somers, PhD, National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences, which partly supported the work. “Drawing on how parasitic worms attach to and feed on fish, they have designed a way to close surgical wounds that appears better than anything currently available for clinical use.”

This is an artistic rendition of the spiny-headed worm, Pomphorhynchus laevis. Credit: Karp lab.

This is an artistic rendition of the spiny-headed worm, Pomphorhynchus laevis. Credit: Karp lab.

Inspired by the worm’s swelling mechanism, Karp and his team created an adhesive patch that mechanically interlocks with tissue through swellable microneedle tips. The tips plump up via a water-based mechanism that is both quick and reversible.

“The adhesion strength of the tips of the microneedle is more than three times stronger than conventional surgical staples used for skin grafts fixation,” said Seung Yun Yang, PhD, a BWH research fellow, and first study author.

Read more at: Phys.org

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