Researchers Find Bioadhesive Inspiration in Ticks’ Mouths

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In Austria, researchers from MedUni Vienna and Vienna University of Technology are studying tick cement—the dowel-like anchor ticks use to adhere to skin and suck blood—in an effort to develop a biological adhesive.

“It is totally conceivable that, in future, it will be possible to use this substance to produce a biological adhesive for human tissue, for example for anchoring tendons and ligaments to bone without using any metal,” project leader Sylvia Nürnberger tells News Medical.

Current adhesives, used for repairing serious skin injuries and liver tears, can be toxic to some extent. Bioadhesives based on blue mussels are currently undergoing preclinical trials, but its low bonding strength makes it unsuitable for all medical applications.

Approximately 300 Austrian ticks are being studied, and giant ticks from South Africa will be evaluated in the future. The work is being funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF.