Currently, most bleedings during surgery or traumatic injury are stopped with hemostatic agents, materials that induce the blood to clot. These, however, can take a few minutes to work and don’t always do their job properly if there’s too much blood, which can make it difficult to get adhesives to stick to the injured area.
In an effort to solve the issue, MIT scientists have taken inspiration from barnacles and developed a super-strong surgical glue that can stop bleeding within 30 seconds. In lab tests, the glue stayed put for weeks before breaking down as the tissue injured tissue healed. With that said, the glue can also be removed earlier by applying a solution that dissolves it.
The idea for the glue came to the researchers by observing how barnacles firmly attach themselves to rocks, ship hulls, and other dirty surfaces that are wet and often dirty.
“It’s very interesting because to seal bleeding tissues, you have to fight with not only wetness but also the contamination from this outcoming blood,” says Hyunwoo Yuk, lead author of the study. “We found that this creature living in a marine environment is doing exactly the same thing that we have to do to deal with complicated bleeding issues.”
As explained by New Atlas, barnacles secrete two different liquids to glue themselves to surfaces. One is an oil that repels and displaces the water, allowing the other liquid — a protein-based adhesive — to stick to a cleaner slate.
Developing an adhesive that mimics the gluing process of barnacles, the team found that their material worked better than existing hemostatic agents. The researchers now plan to improve the material and claim that it could one day allow first responders to stop bleeding in an injured patient as soon as they reach them, or for surgeons to more easily control bleeding during operations.
Study source: Nature Biomedical Engineering — Rapid and coagulation-independent hemostatic sealing by a paste inspired by barnacle glue