CHICAGO - SCIENTISTS have long admired the gecko lizard for its gravity-defying feet. Now United States researchers have made a waterproof bandage inspired by the sticky surface of a gecko's paws.
The finding, published on Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could be used in the operating room in surgeries or to repair wounds.
'What we did was to mimic what the gecko does,' Professor Robert Langer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said in a telephone interview.
Prof Langer and colleague Jeff Karp of Harvard Medical School used computer technology to sculpt extremely tiny hills and valleys on the surface of the bandage to grip the underlying tissue, improving its adhesion.
The bandage is made of a biorubber material invented by Prof Langer, Dr Karp and others.
While different teams have created gecko-inspired glues that could be used in dry environments, the bandage would be suitable for use in wet environments, such as in heart, bladder or lung tissue.
It is biodegradable, so it could be left inside the body.
'There is a big need for a tape-based medical adhesive,' Dr Karp said in a statement.
He said such adhesives must stick well when wet without causing undue inflammation or toxic effects. They also must be flexible.
To make it sticky on wet surfaces, Prof Langer and Dr Karp added a thin layer of a sugar-based glue to the tape. In tests on samples of pig intestines, the glue was twice as strong as adhesives with no pattern.
Prof Langer said the bandage could be used to prevent leaks in gastric bypass surgeries or they could be used to augment sutures or staples.
'You could also put drugs in these and use them as drug or cell-delivery mechanisms,' he said. -- REUTERS
[Comment: Or you can try to be Spiderman!]