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Mussels inspire development of new surgical ‘super glue’


March 2, 2016
By Ruby Gonzalez

Mussels have inspired scientists to develop a synthetic version of a high-strength adhesive that may someday replace sutures and screws used in closing surgical wounds.

The polymer, which the researchers have named catechol-polystyrene, is special because 

it sets underwater and is non-toxic to living cells.

“One long-term goal is to potentially replace sutures and screws owing to the trauma caused from punching holes into healthy tissue,” said Jonathan Wilker, a professor of chemistry and materials engineering at Purdue University who helped lead a research team that developed the polymer.

The polymer is designed after a natural protein that mussels produce for sticking to surfaces, according to a statement from Purdue University. “The animals extend hair-like fibers that connect to surfaces with a natural adhesive. A synthetic polymer is needed because the natural proteins are not practical for industrial applications,” it added.