Your inkjet printer could have secret healing powers, thanks to new research from North Carolina State University.

Researchers there have devised a new way of making medical adhesives that could replace traditional sutures, using a variation on the inkjet printer and the natural glue that sticks mussels to rocks.

Traditionally, the two ways to join tissue together after a surgery are sutures and synthetic adhesives. Sutures work well but require enormous skill, long operating times and risk infection. Synthetic adhesives are also widely used but may cause inflammation and tissue damage, because they are not biodegradable.

Inkjets mussel into hospitals

The marine mussel glue, being both non-toxic and biodegradable, can replace the synthetic adhesive, and is easily placed in solution and applied using inkjet printers.

The inkjet technology allows for extremely precise placement of adhesive for sensitive wounds such as those following eye surgery.

"Inkjets give you greater control over the placement of the adhesive," says Dr Roger Narayan of the university. "This helps ensure that the tissues are joined together in just the right spot, forming a better bond that leads to improved healing and less scarring."