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Slug Mucus Inspires Surgical Adhesive

Mucus secretion from slugs is being developed as an adhesive for wound healing. Researchers from the Department of Bioengineering at London’s Imperial College have found that, when threatened, the Dusky Arion slug secretes a mucus that glues the creature in place, making it harder for predators to remove the slug from a surface.

The defensive mucus’ adhesive properties allow the slug to stick to a variety of wet surfaces due to a tough, cohesive polymer network. The mucus can also transfer and dissipate stress.

“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,” says Dr Adam Celiz, an assistant professor at the Department.

Experiments have shown that researchers can apply this medical adhesive to a wide variety of tissues, including heart, liver, lung and skin, and achieve “unprecedented” adhesive strength in wet environments. In fact, the mucus is up to three times stronger than other medical-grade adhesives.

Research thus far has only been proof-of-concept, but commercialisation of the technology could follow once safety and efficacy studies have been carried out. The researchers are optimistic that this technology could one day be used as a drug-delivery vehicle to deliver therapeutics to diseased tissues to aid wound healing and tissue regeneration.

Learn more about the latest research and news in surgery.


Kronemyer, B. (20 September, 2017.) Slug inspires surgical glue. The Aesthetic Channel; Modern Medicine Network.

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