'Bed-of-needles' super-grip plaster for surgical wounds

US scientists have designed a super-grip plaster covered with microscopic needles to heal surgical wounds.  The "bed-of-needles" patch, inspired by a parasitic worm that lives in the guts of fish and clings on using its cactus-like spikes, fixes skin grafts firmly in place without the need for staples.  Its creators say the patch is three times stronger than the materials currently used for burns patients.

Securing dressings and skin grafts on burn victims is difficult since most adhesives perform poorly on wet skin while staples or stitches can cause damage to tissues.  Researches led by D. Jeffrey Karp at Brigham and Women's Hospital (Boston) investigated the parasitic worm Pomphorhynchus laevis that uses microscopic needles to penetrate the surface of the host gut.  The needles then swell to prevent removal. 

The researchers developed a plastic patch 2 x 2 cm in size that emulated the form of the needles and also the way that they secure themselves by swelling in the presence of moisture.  The functionality and the context were quite similar, allowing an easier transfer of knowledge.

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