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Using porcupine quills to patch up wounds

April 24, 2019 - 4:00 am

KYW Newsradio’s Medical Reports are sponsored by Independence Blue Cross. 

By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — It is a strange concept, using poor porcupine quills to help surgeons patch up wounds.  

A bioengineer at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston has found that the porcupine quill or a substance similar to it can actually be used to help wounds heal. 

An average porcupine has more than 30,000 quills covering its body., which are hollow and two to three inches long. The Harvard researchers are looking at the quills as a replacement for traditional staples to be used in simple surgical repairs of the skin. 

In case you are wondering, porcupine quills are actually specialized hairs that mostly lie flat against that animal's body. The quills are extremely durable and sharp but are not as harsh on skin surfaces as traditional staples. 

Work is underway looking at synthetic copies that could be used.