Connect to share and comment

Porcupine quills help develop new medical adhesive

Researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found that the quills could lead to breakthroughs in medical procedures such as shots as well as better bandages.

porcupine medicalEnlarge
Researchers have used porcupine quills to inspire a new generation of medical adhesives. (JULIAN STRATENSCHULTE/AFP/Getty Images)

Porcupines are getting attention from medical researchers who believe their quills may be an inspiration for new medical adhesives.

Researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found that the quills could lead to breakthroughs in medical procedures such as shots as well as better bandages.

The porcupine is covered in quills on the ends of which are found microscopic barbs making it extremely difficult to remove after it punctures skin, reported Medical News Today.

The rodent uses them as protection but researchers say that the quills and their ability to adhere may have medical benefits.

The team created several devices to emulate the prickly needles, including medical adhesives using barbs.

More from GlobalPostHelium balloons could cause world shortage, claims British chemist

Porcupines' needles adhere to skin with 60 to 70 percent less force without the barbs.

Indeed, the tiny pins are essential in making the needle stay put in the victim's skin.

"By carefully removing the barbs from the quill, we discovered that in addition to their physical features, the location of barbs on the quill played a major role in minimizing penetration forces and maximizing the work needed to yank them from the tissue," study author Woo Kyung Cho, said in a statement, according to HealthDay.

The new medical adhesives used a similar technique as that of the porcupine's quill and researchers found that it took 30 times more energy to remove them than regular adhesives, said Fox News.

The quills may also help to inspire less painful needles that are hopefully easy to remove.

The findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/health/121211/porcupine-quills-help-develop-new-medical-adhesive