The next time you go in for surgery, you might come out thanking a crab. New research from the Harvard Wyss Institute shows that chitosan, which is a fancy term for crustacean goo, can be used as a biodegradable glue to heal wounds and patch surgical incisions.
Scientists have been tinkering with chitosan, which is derived from the molecule chitin found in the crunchy shells of crustaceans and insects, on and off several years. In 2014, Harvard bioengineers Donald Ingber and Javier Fernandez developed “Shrilk,” a chitosan-based plastic substitute that’s non-toxic and fully-degradable. That same year, engineers in Oregon built a device that seals gunshot wounds in 15 seconds using a blood-clotting, chitosan-coated sponge.