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Health & Science

OSU Researchers Use a Desert Bush to Create High Tech Surgical Gloves

Laytex producing schrub
Guayule plant, native to the American SW

Surgeons and other healthcare professionals working with radiation typically wear two medical gloves on each hand, a synthetic rubber one inside a natural rubber one.  They may not have to do that anymore thanks to a team of northeast Ohio scientists.

Katrina Cornish, Professor, Ohio State
Credit OARDC
Professor Katrina Cornish of Ohio State

The problem is that while gloves from rubber trees protect against radiation and pathogens, they can cause allergies. Synthetic rubber gloves are OK allergy-wise, but aren’t preferred for protection.

Professor Katrina Cornish and researchers at the Ohio State agriculture and research campus in Wooster are making gloves with natural rubber from a plant in the U.S. southwest called Guayule. It does not cause allergies and it can be more heavily fortified to reduce, or attenuate, radiation than either rubber-tree or synthetic rubber. “We can get enough radiation attenuation filler into the glove and still meet the surgical glove performance standards required by the FDA,” Cornish said. 

Professor Cornish says the next step in rolling out the gloves is to get FDA approval.