[The] caddisfly larva, or a rock roller as it is also known ... while in larva state, lives underwater and creates its own "shell" by spinning a sticky silk that collects sand grains. Scientists are using this as an inspiration for a biomimetic solution in surgery, hoping to create a synthetic version that can be used as an adhesive tape-like suture.
Russel Stewart leads a team at the University of Utah that is studying how caddisfly silk differs from that of moths and butterflies in both chemistry and structure. Phosphates and electrical charges appear to be important in making the proteins water-soluble in water (allowing the silk to be spun) and sticky underwater. The team believes that the arrangement of the electrical charges can turn the proteins insoluble, resulting in a stable silk fibers.
Potential applications include a surgical tape that can be used to close internal incisions rather than using sutures.