Seal wounds fast with this MIT bio-inspired glue

 MIT bio-inspired glue gum

This article about the MIT bio-inspired glue gum inspired by none other than the neglected barnacles is stirring up the science world. Stay tuned to know more!

Nature is replete with information we need. Recently, MIT bio-inspired glue gum is catching people’s attention. It was developed by closely observing the barnacles. Barnacles use a special sticky gum like gooey substance to stick to rocks. Now, who believed these barnacles could even be a source of inspiration for some? It appears they were for those who were searching for a source of inspiration.

Seeing these barnacles, MIT engineers have developed life saving glue that is compatible with our biological system and is effective and strong. It is enough to stop bleeding in people in just as little as 15 seconds. Unbelievable, isn’t it! Well, the truth is, it’s true.

Bleeding and death are close allies. Accidents and other circumstantial conditions often have seen many patients bleed to death. Death is inevitable once heavy bleeding sets in. In the military, heavy bleeding is often the number one cause of death.

This process of mimicking nature to create something wonderful is a phenomenon widely known as biomimicry.


It is a practice wherein various natural mimicking techniques are closely observed to solve the challenges faced due to human machine’s design. Solving them and finding a way for the human world is what biomimicry is all about.

Next, let us find out who is more prone to bleeding to death and exactly how does one bleed to death.

Bleeding and its causes

Blood loss is a pretty debilitating situation for mankind. Once bleeding sets in, it is often difficult to stop it quickly for long. This part of medical science is much ignored and there is a lot of difficulties involved with it.

Blood loss can be either internal or external to one’s body. Internal bleeding can often lead to death, even though there may not be any sign of blood on the outside. This life saving glue gum is supposed to help all these issues. External blood loss is being successfully targeted with this life saving glue gum. It claims to stop bleeding in just 15 seconds. This bio-adhesive technology holds a lot of promise even for internal bleeding prevention.

1)     Bleeding from trauma

Traumatic bleedings can always vary in severity. Several accidents often lead to traumatic injuries like hematoma, laceration, gunshot wounds, and even crushing injuries. This is where the life saving glue can help.

Any injury to the deeper layers of your body can lead to a puncture wound or shock wound which can cause damage to your arteries and veins. Bleeding is consequential of arterial and venous damage. Deep-set organs can also cause blood loss in the human body.

2)     Medical conditions or diseases

Here are a few very common reasons for bleeding.

·         Low blood platelet count

Our blood is composed of three types of components.

  • Plasma: The liquid part of the blood which contains proteins and other whole blood constituents even after being freed of blood cells and platelets.
  • Blood cells: Red blood cells and white blood cells are the two main blood cell types. White blood cells can further be categorized into many different cell types.
  • Platelets: Sponge like tissue, developed primarily in the bone marrow containing stem cells. It plays a huge role in the blood clotting mechanism.

When its content is low- either manufactured in fewer numbers or destroyed rapidly, it can cause spontaneous bleeding in people suffering from low platelet content.

·         Vitamin K deficiency

Our body is regularly cooking recipes for our benefit. The blood clotting mechanism is also one such process wherein various products are produced one after the other. Different ingredients add to the process- platelets as described above are one such ingredient. Vitamin K is another. An insufficient supply of Vitamin K can hinder proper blood clot formation.

Remember leafy vegetables? Well, a rich source of Vitamin K of course apart from meat, and other flesh products.

·         Menorrhagia

Heavy menstrual bleeding is a condition that can make life difficult for women. Often endometriosis (cystic ovary patients) can suffer from such type of heavy bleeding issues.

·         Disease induced bleeding

Some diseases which can be a contributing cause of blood loss include the ones mentioned below.

  • Von Willebrand disease
  • Colon diverticulitis
  • Lung cancer
  • Acute bronchitis

·         Brain trauma

Any external trauma to the brain box might dangerously impact us. Blood loss or blood clots in the head can risk your life.

3)     Medicines and various drug forms    

Various medicines and drug forms are also responsible for blood losses and blood clot development inside the body.

  • Blood thinners, often prescribed to elderly individuals to prevent the risk of heart attack or blocks can cause bleeding in such patients.
  • Radiation therapy is one such reason which often hampers the blood’s condition.
  • Some antibiotics can cause blood loss in people.
  • Aspirin and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are also responsible for such conditions.

Now that you are aware of all the different conditions which can cause blood loss, let us look deeply into this life saving glue.

What is this life saving glue all about


Hemostatic agents can prevent bleeding but the clotting factors present in these patches often stop the bleeding by naturally enhancing the process of the clotting mechanism. Now, that takes time.

Often large gaping wounds cannot be handled well with these small patches.

Almost two years back, Xuanhe Zhao, a professor of mechanical, civil, and environmental engineering, and his team developed a sticky adhesive widely known as the MIT bio-inspired glue gum called the spider’s glue, the one that they use to catch their prey. To make this life saving glue, their focus shifted to the barnacles. Barnacles are small crustaceans that can stick to almost anything. From ships, large aquatic animals, and ship hulls to rocks, these barnacles stick on wet, dirty surfaces easily. Worth noting is the fact, that wet, dirty surfaces should ideally be difficult surfaces to stick to.

The team of scientists noted that this creature was exactly doing the same thing- it was fighting a wet environment and also a dirty surface to ultimately stick to it. A new phenomenon arose from this observation that was inspired by the barnacles.  They understood, this is what they exactly were supposed to work on, when developing the sticky glue.

Are you inquisitive within, to learn more about the sticky barnacle glue composition?

Composition of the barnacle glue

Barnacle glue composition
Barnacle glue sheets

The barnacles’ glue has a unique composition that is used to develop the life saving glue. It comprises;

  • A sticky protein molecule made of a polymer substance called poly (acrylic acid). It lies within an NHS (N-hydroxy succinimide) ester (a chemical compound. Herein at least one alcoholic (-OH group) is replaced by an -O- alkyl (alkoxy group). It functions as the barnacle glue adhesive.
  • Chitosan is a form of sugar that strengthens the adhesive glue.

How was the life-saving glue made

Life-saving glue
Image credit:

The scientists were clever enough to grind this material. Grinding was done after freezing this particular material into thin sheets. After grinding it, these particles were suspended in the medical-grade silicone oil.

Several tests were conducted around it. Through these tests, they demonstrated the effectivity with which this glue stuck on wet surfaces like the tissues covered in blood and mucus. The oily layer can repel the blood and mucus allowing the adhesive micro-particles to crosslink with each other. This way, the adhesive can seal the wound easily. Another benefit of this MIT bio-inspired glue gum is its molding ability. You can virtually mold it to any shape to fit on any size of the wound easily.

Where all can you use this sealant

  • Not only on traumatic injuries,
  • You will be able to use it also to seal surgical wounds.
  • People who have plastic tubes inserted in their blood vessels can also benefit from the MIT bio-inspired glue gum. Wounds that arise from the use of arterial or central venous catheters.
  • Profound heart and lung failure patients can use the sealant’s power to seal their wounds.
  • It can also be used on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) patients in whom the blood has to be frequently oxygenated.

If this life saving glue is manufactured, no longer will there be a requirement of sutures of any form, going forth.

Scientists are running some preclinical tests before commercially manufacturing the product.

Where has it been tested

In Mayo clinic, a test on the pigs shows rapid cease of bleeding from the liver.

  • From this study, scientists have observed the life saving glue seal can remain intact for several weeks. This process would give enough time for the wounds to heal.
  • They also found that the life saving glue causes a slight inflammation.  But under no circumstances is it any greater than the one which develops from the application of hemostatic agents.
  • Post the several weeks of healing, the life saving glue is self-absorbed by the body and this process can take a little over a few months.
  • It can be removed earlier by applying a solution that can dissolve it if there is any repair of the wound required.

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