Snail may be better than sutures: the natural & # 39; glue & # 39; is stronger and leaves fewer scars, study suggests
- Stitches and staples keep surgical incisions and injuries well closed, but the holes in the skin often leave ugly scars
- Punctures can also increase the risk of infections after surgery
- Bandages and medical adhesives leave fewer scars but are not as safe
- New research from Ithaca College suggests that the natural network of proteins in snail mucus can be strong and flexible and can eliminate scars
Snail slime can create stronger glue to prevent scars and infections during surgery, scientists suggest.
The defensive mucus is produced by a common garden snail that is found in the UK to contaminate the jaws of any predator.
The Dusky Arion snail, which can grow up to seven centimeters in length, can be found in gardens in Britain – but it also produces a mucus that can be used to help heal wounds.
Now two studies have revealed more about how this glue achieves its strong adhesive power and flexibility, insights that can be used to make better medical adhesives.
Stitches are strong, but leave scars and can cause infection risks, and most medical adhesives are too weak or inflexible to keep wounds closed – but snail glue may be the answer
Undergraduate researcher Rebecca Falconer at Ithaca College in New York conducted the first study to investigate possible medical use of the mucus.
She said: & # 39; Typical sutures such as staples and sutures often lead to scars and create holes in the skin that can increase the risk of infection after surgery.
& # 39; Understanding the role of adhesive proteins in the snail glue would help create a medical adhesive that can move and stretch while still retaining its strength and adhesive power. & # 39;
Mrs. Falconer analyzed 11 proteins made in the mucus of the Dusky Arion slug and discovered that some proteins can bind to form a strong and flexible three-dimensional network.
Her work was expanded by Christopher Gallego-Lazo, also an undergraduate researcher in Professor Dr.'s laboratory. Andrew Smith, who investigates the nature of the self-adhesive secretions of a number of molluscs.
Mr. Gallego-Lazo discovered that the double network structure that makes the slag glue is incredibly strong and can withstand large amounts of power.
The glue has a rigid protein network that uses sacrificial bonds to absorb energy and protect an intertwined and malleable carbohydrate network.
Mr. Gallego-Lazo discovered that the strength of the slender can be adjusted by changing some of the chemical bonds in the protein network.
These bonds can be reformed naturally, allowing the glue to deform while retaining its strength.
He said: & # 39; Some studies on biological adhesives have identified the exact nature of the bonds that hold the glue together.
& # 39; This knowledge can lead to the development of an organic synthetic glue that would reduce the risk of infection and scarring compared to stitches and staples and that can be applied quickly and easily. & # 39;
Professor Smith explained that mucus are gels, consisting of & # 39; a diluted, confused network of polymers & # 39 ;.
He said: & # 39; These adhesives are not really solid, like a cement, nor liquid, like the water under a suction cup.
& # 39; In the absence of a better term, they are often called mucus.
& # 39; However, the structure of these gels varies widely and the collective name & # 39; slime & # 39; is probably inappropriate.
& # 39; The function of these gels also varies greatly. Some gels are excellent lubricants. Some are excellent adhesives.
& # 39; It is intriguing that many molluscs can turn a smooth gel into a powerful glue.
& # 39; Therefore, we compare the structure of different adhesive gels with the aim of determining the functional meaning of structural characteristics. & # 39;
The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology during the 2019 Experimental Biology meeting in Orlando
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