Biocompatible material inspired by Mussels’ natural “glue” could help repair Birth Defects

musselsMussels are the bivalve marine mollusks with a shell. They live in the sea while attaching them to the objects with some glue-like material. This material helped the mussels to stay strong to an object in the wet and wave-swept environment of the water.

Adding a Mussels' glue-inspired chemical to the punctured fetal membrane in rabbits (Credit: Martin Ehrbar from University Hospital Zurich)

Adding a Mussels’ glue-inspired chemical to the punctured fetal membrane in rabbits (Credit: Martin Ehrbar from University Hospital Zurich)

This glue-like material by mussels has a catechol-based chemistry and has always attracted the scientists for use in different technologies especially in the field of health-care.

Previously researchers reported that the mussels’ “glue” could help us in the development of material that can be used to cure sensitive teeth.

Now researchers have reported that the mussels’ natural glue-like material could be used to treat the birth defects. They reported that the biocompatible glue, which is made up of a synthetic, thread-like polymer called polyethylene glycol – that mimics the mussel protein – could be used to seal fetal membranes enabling the surgeons to repair the birth defects without increasing the risk of premature labor.

Phillip Messersmith, scientist from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, worked on rabbits and found that after making a 3.5 mm hole in the animal’s fetal membrane, the new mussel-inspired glue helped to seal the puncture. Moreover, 60% of the fetal rabbits survived after the surgery with the glue while only 40% of the fetal rabbits survived without the glue.

In another research, fetal surgeons worked with Messersmith to test whether the glue can help in resealing the tissue around the spinal cord to repair a serious birth defect known as spinal bifida in rabbits.

“I think it’s very exciting.” Emily Carrington, a biologist at the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Laboratories, who was not involved in the research, said.

Source: ScienceNOW, AAAS