Mucus secretion from the slimy slug is being developed as an adhesive for wound healing.
When threatened, the Dusky Arion slug secrets a kind of mucus that glues the creature in place, thus making it hard for a predator to remove the slug from its surface.
“The adhesive properties of the defensive mucus of this particular species of slug allow the slug to stick to a wide variety of wet surfaces,” says co-researcher Adam Celiz, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Bioengineering at Imperial College London in the United Kingdom.
Dr. Celiz tells The Aesthetic Channel that these adhesive properties arise from a “tough,” cohesive polymer network. “We took the design principles of this adhesive mucus to create a bioinspired medical adhesive comprised of a tough hydrogel polymer network which can stick to biological tissues in wet conditions such as blood contact,” he says.
There are two major advantages of the material:
1. It has an extremely strong adhesive force.
2. It has the ability to transfer and dissipate stress.
According to Dr. Celiz, results of experimental tests “confirm that we can apply this medical adhesive to a wide variety of tissues — heart, liver, lung, skin — and achieve an unprecedented adhesive strength in wet environments.”
The tests conclude that more than three times the energy is needed to disrupt the adhesive’s bonding compared with other medical-grade adhesives.
Thus far, the research is proof-of-concept; commercialization of the technology will require additional testing. “This entails further safety and efficacy studies to achieve regulatory approval, which can take several years,” Dr. Celiz says.
Dr. Celiz acknowledges the different directions this early study may lead. “Upon tissue adhesion, this technology could potentially be used as a drug-delivery vehicle to deliver therapeutics to diseased tissues to aid wound healing and tissue regeneration,” he says.