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April 24 2013

Parasitic Spiny-Headed Worms Inspire Replacement for Surgical Staples


Jeffrey Karp is an animal lover, but this fondness did not lead to any affinity for Pomphorhynchus laevis, a blood-sucking parasite that resembles a fat earthworm with a small cactus sticking out of one end. Karp, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, was searching for ideas from the animal kingdom to solve human medical challenges when he stumbled upon the parasite in a Google search.

The spiny-headed worm invades fish and makes its home in a hapless victimís intestines by sticking its spiked proboscis into the hostís tissue. It then anchors itself into the tissue by swelling that needle-like appendage.

Rather than being repulsed, Karp was inspired.

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