Researchers May Use Ticks To Develop More Effective Adhesives

April 6, 2017 | Posted In: General

Researchers May Use Ticks To Develop More Effective Adhesives

Ticks are not good for much other than sucking blood, but the method that ticks use in order to adhere to skin is now being researched in order to possibly develop super sticky adhesives. Ticks are great at sticking to skin and this is due to an incredibly sticky substance that ticks secrete in order to adhere to mammals for long periods of time.

Many people assume that ticks use only their little mouthparts in order to burrow into skin, but actually ticks use a cement-like substance in order to adhere to skin. Medical researchers believe that this tick-adhesive could be used in medical settings in order to stitch human skin back together. Medical experts believe that this adhesive substance could make ligaments adhere to bone without using any metal. This adhesive substance secreted by ticks is known as tick “dowel”.

The tissue-adhesives that are currently used during surgery are a little toxic, but still necessary to prevent death or trauma. As a result of the low-level, but undesirable toxicity that is present in current medical adhesives, researchers have long been searching for an alternative. However, every alternative has proven to be too weak in adhesive-strength to be used in surgery. But, research is showing that biological alternatives, such as tick dowel, could be ideal. It is believed among experts that tick dowel could be used to successfully repair skin wounds as well as cartilage, tendon and ligament damage.

Currently there are three hundred ticks being studied for their adhesive secretions and its application during surgery. The researchers in charge of this study have ticks biting through skin membranes in order to collect the sticky secretions. If tick dowel turns out to be a reliable adhesive during surgery, stitches may become a thing of the past.

Would you feel comfortable having tick secretions applied to your skin for medical purposes?