to harness that technology to create
a new kind of medical adhesive that,
unlike sutures and staples, could be
used in intricate procedures such as
sealing delicate organs and tissue.
Since then, Karp has become a
leading pioneer of bioinspiration and
has received numerous accolades
for his accomplishments. Karp’s
work as an associate professor has
kept him busy at several institutions,
including Brigham and Women’s
Hospital (BWH), Harvard Medical
School, and the Harvard-MIT Division
of Health Sciences and Technology.
Part of what sets him apart from
other scientists is his success at
commercializing his research.
“Because I’m based in a hospital,
I am constantly talking to doctors
about the problems they’re facing,”
Karp tells Surgical Products. “Bioin-
spiration is a tool we use to bring in
Karp now runs his own lab at
BWH and has formed a company
called Skintifique, which has de-
veloped four products, including a
cream that helps protect patients
with sensitive skin from suffering bad
reactions to nickel exposure.
Several other products developed
by Karp and his team are also moving
closer to being commercialized.
In France, a company called
Gecko Biomedical is currently behind
the development of the glue inspired
by gecko feet that Karp says can be
used to seal holes in “harsh environments,” like the colon or stomach.
The glue is currently in human trials
in Paris, and Karp says he expects
that Gecko will have an announce-
ment about the product “in the not
too distant future.”
Meanwhile, his porcupine quill-in-
spired staples are still being devel-
oped in the lab while Karp continues
to work on a manufacturing route
for the product. Unlike the current
staples in use, Karp says his new
technology is designed to not punc-
ture surrounding tissue — an ad-
vancement that could greatly reduce
If these products make it to market and become common in the OR,
it won’t just be a success for Karp; it
will validate the potential of bioinspiration to solve problems found in
many fields, including engineering,
energy, and robotics. Ultimately, Karp
says he hopes to see bioinspiration
become part of scientists’ everyday
“I don’t necessarily look at bioinspiration as a field,” Karp explains. “I
look at it as a fun and versatile tool.
When we have a problem on hand,
we’ll say: How does nature solve this
problem? It has usually figured out a
The powerful vision of the mantis shrimp holds promise for imaging technology.