The findings have convinced Zhang that the sundew adhesive is a good starting point for a variety of tissue engineering applications. He thinks engineers could modify and process the material into an implantable or injectable scaffold. Alternately, Zhang imagines brushing a mixture of liquid sundew adhesive and skin or stem cells onto the surface of a chronic, open wound. The sundew material would serve as a scaffold as the cells grew into a new, healthy layer of skin.
The sundew adhesive may also have a role to play in routine medical implant procedures, Zhang says. For instance, it could be brushed onto the surface of an artificial knee or hip, fostering a secure attachment between the implant and the living tissues surrounding it. Down the line, we may find that the best way to put human bodies back together is to borrow from a predatory plant. “Nature does beautiful things,” Zhang says. “We should definitely learn from that.”