An Oceans Abcdarium created by the University of Applied Sciences in Mainz, Germany


Atessa Kürschner

Marine organisms have developed many strategies and produce a variety of substances to protect themselves (or their offspring) from stressful environmental conditions. Some of these substances have been found to have a protective effect on humans, too—and have therefore raised the interest of biomedical engineers and researchers. For example, the Australian sea snail secretes a purple substance containing anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties to protect its eggs—one compound of which showed promising results in laboratory testing for preventing colon cancer. While research is still underway, other projects have already produced applicable results: the adhesive barnacles use to attach themselves to their substrates has to meet several challenges, as surfaces like rocks or whale skin are often dirty and a wet environment makes adhesion very difficult. This has inspired MIT engineers to create a biomimetic glue that can seal wounds while they are still bleeding. Within 15-30 seconds of application, this paste forms a seal over even the most irregular wounds. Due to its biocompatible nature, it induces little inflammation and allows the wound below to heal. If the further preclinical studies confirm the positive results, this new bio-inspired tissue glue could soon be ready for the market.

Sources: Rudd, D.A et al., “Mapping insoluble indole metabolites in the gastrointestinal environment of a murine colorectal cancer model using desorption/ionisation on porous silicon imaging”, Scientific Reports, vol. 9, (2019).

Yuk, H. et al., “Rapid and coagulation-independent haemostatic sealing by a paste inspired by barnacle glue”, Nature Biomedical Engineering, vol. 5, (2021): 1131–1142.