These glistening dew-like droplets are a death trap for insects, but could be a symbol of hope for surgery patients. The sundew (Drosera sp.) is an insectivorous plant that entices and then snares its prey with tentacles covered in gluey mucilage. Taking inspiration from nature, researchers believe this natural adhesive might have many medical uses. A complex network of carbohydrate-based nanofibres, sundew’s secretions are super-sticky and extremely stretchy. The most valuable property of this biomaterial is that animal cells can attach to and grow on it. If surgical implants, like hip replacements, were coated in sundew adhesive they might be more quickly integrated into the body, reducing rejection and improving recovery rates. It could even be used for wound dressings – promoting faster healing by encouraging cell growth. As the mucilage is so stretchy a little goes a long way, making it cost effective too.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.