A 'wild' new way to make medical tape

It sounds like the beginning of a riddle – what do a spider, porcupine and a worm all have in common?

The answer? They are allowing researchers to develop a new type of neonatal medical tape that is extra sticky and does not damage a baby’s skin.

Harvard Professor Jeffery Karp and his team at Brigham and Women’s Hospital used geometry from a spider’s web and added a third layer to the bandage.

"We changed the point where the bandage breaks to a middle layer," said Karp.

The Spiny Headed Worm helps Karp’s team create a micro needle adhesive patch to help keep skin grafts in place. Inspired by a parasite worm feeding off fish, scientists designed these needles to grab onto the skin, swell up and lock in.

"So less complications, less number of procedures,” he said.

Porcupine quills, because of their geometry and backward-facing barbs, allow for easier penetration than standard needles.

"If they have to push harder on the needle, there is greater chance of overshoot injuries," said Karp.

The staying power of the quills is also the inspiration for a biomedical patch which Karp’s team believes could someday deliver medicine to patients.

So far, the tape has not gone through human clinical trials.


REPORT: MB# 3671

STICKING POWER: Bioengineer Jeffrey Karp, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital, is used to finding inspiration in unusual places. He's looked to porcupines' barbed quills and the sticky pads of geckos' feet to develop medical adhesives.

He and his team developed an adhesive device that consists of a sheet of microneedles whose tips swell upon contact with water, which could be used to adhere skin grafts to wounds, deliver drugs to target tissues, and for many other potential applications.

Karp and colleagues will now test the device in live pigs and then eventually in humans. They are also working on developing swellable microneedle adhesives that can dissolve inside the body for use by surgeons repairing the intestine and other internal tissues. These internal adhesives could replace sutures, which are hard to tie in confined spaces. (SOURCE: http://www.karplab.net/news)

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