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Researchers turn to spider webs to design improved medical tape

In an effort to protect newborns sensitive skin from being damaged by the removal of conventional medical tape, a group of researchers has developed a new design based on the adhesiveness of spider webs. The Chart reports:

... the researchers have designed a tape with three layers. On top is the non-sticky backing, and a sticky layer clings to the skin, as usual. But the middle layer has an anti-adhesive coating. Using a laser, researchers etched a pattern into this middle layer so that they could control how the adhesive and backing interact.

"By controlling those interactions, we were able to define a regime where the adhesive could secure devices very strongly to the skin, but was very easy to remove," [Jeffrey Karp, PhD, researcher at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston] said.

The concept appears to "offer a major advantage by providing adhesion and anchoring without causing damage to the skin," said Dr. Michael Katz, interim medical director of the March of Dimes Foundation.

The researchers' findings (subscription required) were published yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The scientists note that the medical tape design is still conceptual and has yet to be clinically tested.

Previously: Researchers look to gecko’s ultra-sticky feet to improve adhesion of bandages, sutures when wet and Beetle wing design inspires ultra-sensitive electronic skin
Photo by Curt Smith

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