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Adhesive producing animals: Use in medicine, wound healing and cosmetics
In medicine, adhesives that contain chemical substances are used time and again - for example for severe skin injuries. Some of them are toxic. Researchers are therefore always on the lookout for natural adhesives. As experts now report, snails and other animals could help here.
Biological adhesive for human tissue
Scientists from the Medical University (MedUni) Vienna and the Technical University (TU) Vienna recently reported that a biological adhesive that ticks produce could possibly even cement human tissue. "It is quite conceivable that in the future it will be possible to turn this substance into a biological adhesive for human tissue," explained project manager Sylvia Nürnberger. Researchers at another university in Vienna are now reporting that there are many more animals that can help develop natural adhesives that could be used in medicine, wound healing and cosmetics.
Snails and carnivorous plants produce adhesives
Nürnberger explained how important natural adhesives are in medicine: "The tissue adhesives currently used in surgery, such as those used for severe skin injuries or liver tears, are sometimes toxic." Other adhesives are too weak. Therefore biological alternatives would be optimal.
A few years ago, a new, natural, algae-based patch was reported from the United States that could stop the heaviest bleeding in a very short time.
There are other possibilities in nature. For example, salamanders, snails, orchids or carnivorous plants produce adhesives that can also be useful for humans.
A conference is currently taking place in Vienna, where a hundred scientists are dealing with such biological adhesives and how they work.
"And they will discuss how partially toxic adhesive products used in medicine and cosmetics can be replaced by natural and non-toxic biological products," says a statement from the University of Vienna.
Every adhesive is unique
Some, such as a mussel glue to seal small tears in a amniotic sac, are already in use.
"We are moving forward step by step," said conference speaker Janek von Byern from the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Experimental and Clinical Traumatology in a message from the dpa news agency.
For example, it is still not clear which substances are responsible for the stickiness of snail slime. "Each adhesive is unique in its composition and use," said Norbert Cyran from the University of Vienna.
"We need a broad methodological and academic network to fully characterize our adhesives and to use them in basic research."
Biological adhesives could be used in particular in medicine, but also in the paper industry or cosmetics.
So far, chemical adhesives can be found in many products. Vonern explains that hairspray often contains formaldehyde. "This is highly toxic." The researcher and his colleagues are working on finding biological alternatives for this. (ad)