MIT scientists have created a potentially lifesaving medical glue inspired by barnacles.

It can seal bleeding wounds in 30 seconds which means it could be used to stop bleeding during surgery or after traumatic injuries when blood loss is the leading cause of death.

The MIT scientists investigated how barnacles cling to wet slippery surfaces like rocks and ships. They discovered that barnacles make a glue of sticky protein suspended in oil. The oil repels any water that might prevent the barnacle from attaching.

To recreate this glue the team ground an adhesive into micro-particles, then suspended them in silicone oil. The oil repels blood so the adhesive can stick the wound together.

MIT’s glue is non-toxic to patients and is slowly absorbed by the blood over several months or can dissolve sooner by applying a solution.

So far, it’s only been trialled on animals but the team is working to make it commercially available.

Will bio-mimicking barnacle glue replace stitches in the future?