Never let it be said that my approach to this blog is not eclectic….
Because of John Scott and his close relationship with parasitic worms, my eye is always attracted to anything with ‘intestinal parasite’ in the title, so, of course, I had to read ‘Intestinal parasite inspires new medical ‘glue’. And now I feel I have to share……
A gut-clinging worm with a proboscis that swells has inspired a new approach to healing and protecting wounds normally treated with sutures, staples and adhesive dressings.
Traditional methods for protecting and sealing wounds, such as staples, sutures and adhesive dressings have limitations. Some methods can cause localised tissue damage and infection (staples), allergic reactions (adhesive dressings) and are often difficult and time-consuming to apply. Soft and wet tissues, including wounds affected by bleeding, also make adhesion difficult.
In an attempt to find a better solution, a team at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in America, sought inspiration from nature, in particular a parasitic worm – called Pomphorhynchus laevis – which is found in freshwater crustaceans.
The worm has the ability to swell its proboscis allowing it to press microneedles into the intestinal wall of its host. The result creates a strong adhesive bond allowing the worm to cling on.
The team at Brigham have used this principle to create a ‘microneedle patch’ which grafts itself to the damaged area. When the tips of microneedles contact a wet tissue they swell creating a mechanical lock, which minimises tissue damage.
Earlier this month, the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) honoured the Hospital’s work by awarding it the Innovative Product of the Year at the IChemE Awards 2013, which celebrates innovation and excellence in chemical engineering across the world.
“Strong adhesion strength, ease of removal, reduced risk of infection and excellent penetration depth are all features of the microneedle patch and they fully deserve their IChemE Award” said IChem’s chief executive David Brown.