Northwestern University researchers have developed a surgical glue based on the adhesive that mussels use to stick themselves to rocks. Now an international team of scientists has tested the effectiveness of the glue in repairing damage in the human fetal membrane, a wet and fragile tissue, resulting in performance and toxicity improvements over common surgical glues.
Messersmith [Phillip Messersmith, professor of biomedical engineering at Northwestern University –ed.] and colleagues from Belgium, Switzerland, and Canada punched holes three millimeters wide into human fetal tissue in vitro to replicate the tiny holes found in fetal membrane defects.
They then applied their sealant as well as other sealant candidates (such as medical-grade superglues) to the holes and analyzed fetal tissue cell death for each sealant. The mussel-inspired sealant had the best results in both bonding and toxicity.
The injectable sealant is a mixture of two different solutions that, when combined, form a sealant or gel in 10 to 20 seconds.
One solution is a simple synthetic polymer containing DOPA, a key amino acid found in the sophisticated proteins that are essential to mussels’ ability to adhere to wet surfaces, and the other is a catalyst.
The foot of the common mussel (Mytilus edulis) produces a sticky glue that keeps the shelled organism anchored to rocks and other objects, allowing them to withstand the extreme pounding of waves. Chemical analysis of this natural, waterproof glue showed that the key to its adhesiveness is a family of unique proteins called mussel adhesive proteins, which contain a high concentration of DOPA (dihydroxyphenylalanine).
Press release: Medical ‘glue’ mimics sticky mussels…
Abstract in American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology: Injectable candidate sealants for fetal membrane repair: bonding and toxicity in vitro
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