Bloodless needle made from mussel substance

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Bloodless needle made from mussel substance

A team of researchers led by Professor Lee Hae-shin from KAIST developed a needle that completely prevents a patient from bleeding after an injection.

It uses an adhesive substance that mussels use to cling to wet rocks. The substance is called byssus, a silky thread that contains adhesives.

Lee’s team extracted a chemical called catecholamine from the byssus and made it into a film that coats the needle.

The film immediately dissolves into a hydrogel when blood touches it, completely preventing the patient from releasing even the smallest amount of blood.

Regular needles require patients to control small hemorrhages by putting pressure on the spot right after an injection, but this doesn’t work for patients who suffer from diseases that prevent normal blood clotting such as diabetes and hemophilia. Regular aspirin takers and cancer patients who have undergone treatment for a long time experience similar problems.

Although the search for a substance to control hemorrhages of blood vessels or the skin has been going on for some time, most materials couldn’t pass through the skin tissue upon injection. This is why Lee’s team made the substance into a solid film that could endure the frictional force when the needle is pushed into the skin.

“The needle proved to work on every type of intravascular and intramuscular injections,” said Lee. “As it was effective for patients with hemophilia, we expect the product to work on other patients with blood coagulation problems.”

A Ph.D in biomedical engineering, Professor Lee and his lab have been conducting experiments to develop medical adhesives inspired by mussels since the 2000s. In 2007, he released a paper that proposed a method to transform liquid with mussel adhesive molecules into a film-a finding that led to the development of the new needle.

“There are ongoing experiments to find other ways to use the substance,” said one researcher.

Published in the online version of Nature Material, the project was a collaboration with Kang Sun-woong of the Korea Institute of Toxicology, Professor Kim Ki-suk’s research team and Innotherapy, a bio company.


BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]

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