Gecko inspires new surgical help

February 19, 2008 3:03:21 PM PST
Researchers may have found way to replace stitches, staples, with sticky tape inspired by lizards.

Geckos are cute lizards that have become an advertising hit.

Now, their ability to walk up walls, even wet ones, inspired a team at Harvard Medical School to develop a new surgical tape that even works inside your body.

Right now, doctors use sutures or staples, because tape can't hold wet tissue together.

But researcher Jeff Karp says there has to be a better way, "There's a great need for a tape-based medical adhesive that can either augment or replace standard sutures or staples."

Enter the gecko, a lizard with feet that let them walk up walls.

They have nanoscale pillars that provide a tighter connection between the feet and a wall. The Harvard tape is covered with those minute pillars.

For extra sticking power, the tape also has a thin layer of biodegradable glue.

The new tape has passed lab tests with flying colors, and is about to go into hospital trials. It could someday make surgical stitches a thing of the past.

Like stitches and staples used internally, the tape is designed to dissolve after the surgical incision heals.