Shu Yang Wins Manufacturing PA Innovation Grant for Developing Snail-inspired Adhesive

Shu Yang
Shu Yang

Shu Yang, Professor in the departments of Materials Science Engineering and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, has been awarded a Manufacturing PA Innovation grant to develop a new kind of medical adhesive. Inspired by the biology of snails, the gel-based adhesive could be applied to open wounds, then harden into a protective film.

The Manufacturing PA Innovation Program aims to capitalize on the cutting-edge science and engineering research of Pennsylvania’s educational institutes by forging partnerships between them and the manufacturing sector.

Yang was awarded approximately $70,000 to fund an application of her “snail glue” research. This research centers on creating durable adhesives that mimic a snail’s epiphragm — a slimy structure that conforms to a given surface and hardens to protect and anchor snails in dry environments.

Yang will collaborate with Anand Jagota, Professor and Founding Chair of the Department of Bioengineering at Lehigh University, and Adehzion Biomedical to fabricate an innovative hydrogel adhesive for wound closure. Leaning on their prior research, the team aims to develop a durable adhesive that is also biocompatible.

Yang envisions that when a snail-slime-inspired hydrogel is placed on a wound, the adhesive will suck up water from the wound’s blood and instantly cure to form a solid film. This curing process would allow the patient to move more freely, as the film would be able to stick to the wound without fracturing under stress.