Pomphorhynchus laevis is a revolting parasitic worm that latches onto the intestinal walls of fish. While it has nothing to offer the average person, medical researchers, oddly enough, have figured out the perfect use.

In a study that will appear in the April 16 edition of Nature Communications, researchers devised a microneedle based on the spiny-headed worm which could be used to securely envelope skin grafts over wounds — a potential alternative to the sutures and staples currently used to manage burned, infected, and cancer-ridden wounds.

"Drawing on how parasitic worms attach to and feed on fish, they have designed a way to close surgical wounds that appears better than anything currently available for clinical use," said Scott Somers, program director in the division of pharmacology, physiology, and biological chemistry at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

The worm is known for deeply piercing the gastrointestinal tissue of its host fish, and then swelling its bristled head in order to securely latch on.

The part that interested the scientists the most was the swelling mechanism. Based on this biological mechanism, the researchers designed an adhesive patch with expandable microneedle tips that could interlock with tissue. The scientists say the tips are reversible and swell with the touch of water.

"The adhesion strength of the tips of the microneedle is more than three times stronger than conventional surgical staples used for skin grafts fixation," said Seung Yun Yang, Brigham and Women's Hospital research fellow and co-author of the study.

The new adhesive also offered insight on how they could transport treatments such as antibiotics or anti-inflammatory compounds through the microneedle tips during surgery.

Orthopaedic surgeries are administered to patients with sports injuries, infections, or tumors, among others. In one study published in BMJ that compared staples to sutures for wound closure, surgeons found there was a higher chance of developing infections if the patients' wound closed via staples.