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Barnacle-inspired ‘duct tape for surgery’ wins Nature’s Spinoff Prize 2023

SanaHeal, a spinout from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US, has won this year’s Spinoff Prize for its bioglue breakthrough that offers hope for wound healing and haemorrhage control

London | New York | Darmstadt – WEBWIRE

SanaHeal becomes the third winner of The Spinoff Prize, a Nature Award in partnership with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.

SanaHeal’s experimental bioadhesive - inspired by barnacles and spider webs - offers a potential improvement over hand-sewn sutures and existing bleeding-control agents for a myriad of clinical applications. In animal testing it has been shown to help seal colon injuries in pigs, mend skin lesions in mice and affix bioelectronics devices onto the beating hearts of rats. 

Commenting on this year’s award, Richard Hughes, VP, Publishing, Nature & Impact Solutions, said: “We congratulate the SanaHeal team on being crowned winner. The judges were impressed by the elegance of SanaHeal’s solution that is inspired by nature and has the potential to revolutionise the treatment of bleeding.”

Launched in 2020, The Spinoff Prize showcases and celebrates global excellence in the commercialisation of research through university spinout companies. Following a virtual pitching event that can be viewed on demand, the €30,000 cash prize was awarded to SanaHeal.

Ulrich Betz, Vice President Innovation, Merck, further commented: “With M-ventures and also with our engagement in The Spinoff Prize we support the transfer of new scientific discoveries into application, thereby making innovation happen.”

Hughes added: “Springer Nature strives to support the translation of research to practical applications that address societal challenges. The Spinoff Prize provides a platform for founders to share their science and attract future investment. Thank you to all of the applicants, to our expert judging panel and to our partner Merck.” 

The Spinoff Prize forms part of the wider Nature Awards suite which celebrate and champion scientific excellence globally. Profiles of the 2023 Spinoff Prize winner, finalists and ones-to-watch are available in a Nature Outlook package.

The next cycle of The Spinoff Prize will open for applications in September 2023. 



The term spinoff in this case refers to a company that has been formed specifically to commercialise the outputs generated from research conducted at a university or research institute.

About Springer Nature

For over 180 years Springer Nature has been advancing discovery by providing the best possible service to the whole research community. We help researchers uncover new ideas, make sure all the research we publish is significant, robust and stands up to objective scrutiny, that it reaches all relevant audiences in the best possible format, and can be discovered, accessed, used, re-used and shared. We support librarians and institutions with innovations in technology and data; and provide quality publishing support to societies. 

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About Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany

Merck, a leading science and technology company, operates across life science, healthcare and electronics. More than 64,000 employees work to make a positive difference to millions of people’s lives every day by creating more joyful and sustainable ways to live. From providing products and services that accelerate drug development and manufacturing as well as discovering unique ways to treat the most challenging diseases to enabling the intelligence of devices – the company is everywhere. In 2022, Merck generated sales of € 22.2 billion in 66 countries.

Scientific exploration and responsible entrepreneurship have been key to Merck’s technological and scientific advances. This is how Merck has thrived since its founding in 1668. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed company. Merck holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the business sectors of Merck operate as MilliporeSigma in life science, EMD Serono in healthcare, and EMD Electronics in electronics.

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