The little green lizard that hawks insurance may have unusual skills, such as the ability to speak, but a team of HMS and MIT researchers, who have been investigating the capabilities of the gecko, has been inspired by a different attribute—the unique gripping properties of the animal's feet. The team, led by Jeffrey Karp, an HMS assistant professor of medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Robert Langer, an HMS senior lecturer on surgery and the David H. Koch Institute Professor at MIT, has developed a snug-fitting surgical-grade adhesive bandage that may replace or augment traditional methods of closing surgical wounds, such as with sutures or staples. Karp and his team developed a bandage that meets the requirements for surgical applications—biocompatible, biodegradable, and elastic—by using a biorubber that can conform to the tiny hills and valleys of tissue surfaces.
Like the feet of the gecko, which can grip in vertical or inverted positions, this bandage can adhere to uneven surfaces in wet environments, such as human internal organs. Unlike a gecko's grip, this bandage does not need to be removed for it dissolves harmlessly in the body, making it a viable tool for surgical repairs such as patching a hole from a gastric ulcer. The adhesive could even be infused with drugs or growth factors and "tuned" for specific surgical uses.