How a Porcupine’s Razor Sharp Quills Are Helping Doctors Create Surgical Staples That Ward Off Infection

An aciculated episode of the KQED series Deep Look (previously) explains how the incredibly sharp quills from a North American porcupine‘s rear area can be really painful, but rarely if ever gets infected. This is due to a stinky grease that coats the quill and wards off bacteria. Researchers at Harvard University are now looking at mimicking both the quill and its accompanying grease to improve staples used in surgery.

Porcupines may be adorable, but their quills are razor-sharp, designed to impale and next to impossible to remove. But it’s not all bad news. Researchers are designing new surgical staples that mimic the quill’s shape to better close wounds and promote healing.