Medicine from nature: snails could produce natural glue

Adhesive-producing Animals: Use in Medicine, Wound Healing and Cosmetics
In medicine, adhesives are repeatedly used - for example, in severe skin injuries - containing chemical substances. Some of them are toxic. Researchers are therefore constantly looking for natural adhesives. As experts now report, snails and other animals could help here.

Biological Adhesive for Human Tissue
Scientists at the Medical University( MedUni) Vienna and the Technical University( TU) Vienna have recently reported that a biological adhesive produced by ticks could possibly even kink human tissue."It is quite conceivable that in the future it will be possible to turn this substance into a biological adhesive for human tissue," explained project manager Sylvia Nürnberger. Researchers from another Viennese university now report that there are many more animals that can help develop natural adhesives that could be used in medicine, wound healing and cosmetics.

Various plants and animals such as orchids and snails produce adhesives that could also be of benefit to humans. For example, in medicine, for killing wounds or in cosmetics.(Photo: rs31 / fotolia.com)

Snails and Carnivorous Plants Produce Adhesives
Nürnberger explained how important natural adhesives are in medicine: "The currently used tissue adhesives in surgery, which are used for example in severe skin injuries or tears, are partialtoxic. "Other adhesives are again too weak. Therefore, biological alternatives would be optimal.

A few years ago, a new natural algae-based patch was reported from the US, which can stop the heaviest bleeding in no time.

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There are many other possibilities in nature. For example, salamanders, snails, orchids or carnivorous plants produce adhesives that can also be of benefit to humans.

A conference is currently taking place in Vienna, where a hundred scientists are dealing with such biological adhesives and their functionality.

"And they will discuss how partially toxic adhesive products used in medicine and cosmetics can be replaced by natural and non-toxic biological products," states a statement from the University of Vienna.

Every Adhesive is Unique
Some, such as a clam adhesive for closing small tears of a sac, are already being used.

"We are moving forward step by step," conference spokesman Janek von Byern from the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Experimental and Clinical Traumatology explained in a message from the dpa news agency.

For example, it is still unclear which substances are responsible for the stickiness of slug mucus."Each adhesive is unique in its composition and use," said Norbert Cyran of the University of Vienna.

"We need a broad methodological and academic network to fully characterize our adhesives and apply them to basic science."

Biological Alternatives
Biological Adhesives could be used in particular in medicine, but also in the paper industry or cosmetics.

So far many products contain chemical adhesives. Thus hairspray often contains formaldehyde, explained by Byern."This is highly toxic." The researcher and his colleagues are working to find biological alternatives.(ad)

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