Inspired by a parasitic worm, an adhesive patch of swellable microneedles like this may one day help heal external and internal wounds more effectively. It could also help better affix skin grafts in burn patients.
Bioengineer Jeffrey Karp and his group stumbled upon a paper that mentioned the spiny-headed worm (Pomphorhynchus laevis), which lives inside the guts of fish. An electron micrograph in the paper showed the worm’s unusual method of attaching itself: the tip of its proboscis swells once inside its host’s flesh, anchoring the worm to the gut.
Karp’s 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.
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