Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Medicinal Plants Week Stuck like Glue
17 May 2013

Stuck like Glue

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.

Written by Sarah McLusky

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