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Gecko's Stickiness Inspires New Surgical Bandage
Date:2/19/2008

It's waterproof, biodegradable and adheres much better than conventional sutures, researchers say

TUESDAY, Feb. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Borrowing a design from the agile, sticky-footed gecko, scientists have created a waterproof, biodegradable adhesive bandage that may one day replace conventional sutures.

The bandage, which could close external wounds and mend internal injuries, has tiny "hills and valleys," similar to those found on the gecko's feet, a Harvard-MIT team reports. This bit of natural engineering allows geckos to cling to almost any surface, even upside-down.

Overlaying the clingy structures is a coating of glue that enables the new bandage to stick onto wet tissues. That ability to stick in wet conditions has been a major challenge to overcome, the researchers said.

"There is a big need for bondable, tape-based adhesives that could be used to seal tissues," said lead researcher Jeffrey M. Karp, director of the Laboratory for Advanced Biomaterials and Stem Cell-Based Therapeutics at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

His team described the new bandage in this week's online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

There are other glue-based surgical tapes available, but many are neither flexible nor waterproof, Karp noted. "We decided we needed to create a new material that was elastic, that could conform to the tissue and that could be biodegradable," he said. "So we created this new material that met all of these requirements."

To design a material that could adhere to slippery tissues, the researchers turned to one of nature's stickiest creatures, the gecko. The gecko is able to cling to walls and ceilings using tiny corrugated structures called "nanoscale pillars" on its paws.

"The gecko has no glue, but it uses nanoscale pillars -- a whole carpet of them, mil
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