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Words Matter: Porcupines - The Muse of Medicine

Did you know the North American porcupine has over 30,000 quills? Contrary to a common myth, porcupines do not shoot quills from their bodies.Their hollow 2-3 inch spines have inspired a new type of surgical staple that prove to be less damaging. Surgical staples are composed of metal and are used to close internal and skin wounds, holding tissue together. They often lead to lacerated tissue and form gaps that are susceptible to infection. The porcupine inspired staples are to feature the gripping power of natural quills and possess a barbed quill design, which causes minimal damage to the flesh when inserted. When the required technologies are available, biomedical researchers estimate that human testing using these staples will possibly begin in two to five years. Written by: Hannah Burleson Graphic: Teju Calmbakkam

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