Glue sets quickly underwater

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Inspired by the sandcastle worm, Phragmatopoma californica, researchers have designed a new bioadhesive. This polychaete builds underwater tubes for housing using a quick-set underwater adhesive to glue together small mineral fragments. Russell Stewart and his research team have mimicked the characteristics of this glue to create a strong, water-based synthetic adhesive for medical applications.

Key Differentiators

The new glue, though still under development, has been shown in lab tests to be 37% as strong as commercial superglue. Once patented, the adhesive will likely be licensed to an outside company for further product development. Learn more

Biomimicry Story

Sandcastle worm glue is made up of proteins and DOPA, the same amino acid that mussels use to anchor themselves to rocks in the intertidal zone. Instead of harvesting chemicals from the sandworm, Steward mimicked the chemistry to create a synthetic glue.

Challenges Solved

Traditionally, shattered bones are repaired with mechanical items such as screws, nails, and pins. It is challenging to achieve and maintain proper alignment using these connectors. A biocompatible, biodegradable adhesive has been needed to help reconstruct small bones with precision, holding them in place until they heal. This new glue also has the potential to be used to deliver medicines or stem cells to repair sites, speeding up recovery times.

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