The humble mussel, or rather the chemistry that lets mussels stick to underwater surfaces, could lead to the development of a substance for adhesive wound closure, leading to more effective healing from surgery.
The binding of major wounds with stitches after surgery is far less common these days. Instead so-called bioadhesives (‘biological glues’), tissue sealants and hemostatic agents are used to seal wounds, as well as to control bleeding and promote tissue healing after surgery.
However, many of the products available to surgeons either have side-effects or they do not work well on wet tissues.
According to the research brief, to overcome the issue of sealing wet tissue, Jian Yang, associate professor of bioengineering at Penn State University, looked towards the way the mussels stick to surfaces in sea water. In particular, he looked at how a mussel produces its very powerful adhesive protein.
From his research, New York Daily News summarizes, Yang used the chemical structure from the mussel's adhesive protein and produced an injectable synthetic polymer (a new type of bio-glue). Successful trials were carried out on rats, where, after the wound is healed the bio-glue dissolved after one week leaving healed skin.
The research has been published in the journal Biomaterials.