Researchers looked to nature to inspire a potential new surgical adhesive.

Some patients healing from wounds may find all-natural remedies can be complementary to advice from their clinician. They may decide that feeling more relaxed overall can enable them to feel better or forget their injury for a time, and may try aromatherapy. Other patients may want to focus on their diet and eating wholesome, fresh foods because it promotes well-being.

However, some research is taking some elements from nature a whole step further when it comes to wound care. A recent study was inspired by slug “glue,” or the trails that slugs leave behind as they move.

The study, “Tough adhesives for diverse wet surfaces”, conducted by a research team from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard examined how to improve medical adhesives. Author Jianyu Li, Ph.D, was inspired to create a “double helix hydrogel” by the tough glue-like substance secreted by the Dusky Arion slug that, when threatened, sticks itself in place.

The material developed attaches to the skin in three ways: through electrostatic attraction, covalent bonds between neighbouring atoms and through being physically difficult to penetrate with water or other substances, according to the  institute. This makes the attachment to biological tissue extremely strong. Researchers tested the material on both dry and wet pig tissues, which is extremely similar to skin. They tested the substance internally and externally. According to the source, it was even applied to a hole in a pig’s heart in testing, and did not disintegrate or separate from the tissue.

The material may be used in the future for extreme internal injuries, being that it is able to hold tissues together with such strength, becoming a kind of surgical glue.The newly-created material has a strength comparable to human cartilage.

“Nature has frequently already found elegant solutions to common problems; it’s a matter of knowing where to look and recognizing a good idea when you see one,” said Wyss Institute Founding Director Donald Ingber

For at-home wound care, the American Academy of Dermatology advised patients to always keep an external wound clean and to change the bandage daily. If the site has stitches to fuse the skin together, patients should follow the directions from their clinician for how to keep the site clean and when it is the right time to get them removed.

Advanced Tissue is the nation’s leader in delivering specialized wound care supplies to patients, delivering to both homes and long-term care facilities.