IT DOESN’T come unstuck when things get sticky. An adhesive with remarkable strength could be ideal for patching people up after surgery.

Most glues are not suited to medical applications: they may be toxic, or fail when exposed to moisture. Others, like fibrin, are costly and not particularly sticky.

But a simple mixture of two cheap, safe chemicals seems to solve these problems, creating an adhesive that sticks to tissues covered in blood or mucus. It is even reusable like a Post-It Note.

Haeshin Lee from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology and colleagues mixed tannic acid –an antibacterial compound found in plants that also gives wine its edge – with polyethylene glycol or PEG, which can help rejoin broken nerves. He called the resulting substance TAPE (Advanced Functional Materials, doi.org/f26jp5).

They tested its ability to stop bleeding by poking a hole in a mouse’s liver and patching it up. After 30 seconds, TAPE-treated mice had bled one-sixth as much as those treated with fibrin. Within 2 minutes, the TAPE mice had stopped bleeding altogether.

This article appeared in print under the headline “In an emergency, put it all on TAPE”

Issue 3016 of New Scientist magazine

  • New Scientist
  • Not just a website!
  • Subscribe to New Scientist and get:
  • New Scientist magazine delivered every week
  • Unlimited online access to articles from over 500 back issues
  • Subscribe Now and Save

If you would like to reuse any content from New Scientist, either in print or online, please contact the syndication department first for permission. New Scientist does not own rights to photos, but there are a variety of licensing options available for use of articles and graphics we own the copyright to.

Related Posts

Facebook Comments

Return to Top ▲Return to Top ▲