Mussels' Sticking Power Could Help Humans

Research on the mollusks may lead to development of new surgical adhesives

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SUNDAY, Feb. 1, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Saltwater mussels use iron to manufacture the natural adhesive they use to stick to rocks and other objects, a finding that may have medical and industrial applications, Purdue University scientists say.

It's the first time that iron has been found in such a biological function. The information could prove valuable in developing surgical adhesives and other products.

"These animals appear to use iron in a way that has never been seen before," researcher Jonathon Wilker, an assistant professor of chemistry, says in a prepared statement.

"Research based on materials like this one could open up new branches of adhesives research, helping us do things such as develop new surgical procedures and prevent barnacles from sticking to ships," he says.

"This material's ability to adhere to many surfaces and its biological origin may make it useful in medical applications. This glue could be modified for use in wound closure, nerve reconstruction, or when one might need a scaffold upon which to grow cells and build new tissue," Wilker says.

The research appeared in a recent issue of Angewandte Chemie International Edition.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about mussels.

SOURCE: Purdue University, news release, January 2004

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