Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Secrets Of The Sandcastle Worm Could Yield A Powerful Medical Adhesive

Date:
September 27, 2009
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Scientists have copied the natural glue secreted by a tiny sea creature called the sandcastle worm in an effort to develop a long-sought medical adhesive needed to repair bones shattered in battlefield injuries, car crashes and other accidents.

The sandcastle worm makes a protective home out of beads of zirconium oxide in a lab. At the University of Utah, scientists have created a synthetic version of this glue for possible use in repairing fractured bones.
Credit: Fred Hayes

Scientists have copied the natural glue secreted by a tiny sea creature called the sandcastle worm in an effort to develop a long-sought medical adhesive needed to repair bones shattered in battlefield injuries, car crashes and other accidents. They reported on the adhesive here today at the 238th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

"This synthetic glue is based on complex coacervates, an ideal but so far unexploited platform for making injectable adhesives," says Russell Stewart, Ph.D. "The idea of using natural adhesives in medicine is an old one dating back to the first investigations of mussel adhesives in the 1980s. Yet almost 30 years later there are no adhesives based on natural adhesives used in the clinic."

The traditional method of repairing shattered bones is to use mechanical connectors like nails, pins and metal screws for support until they can bear weight. But achieving and maintaining alignment of small bone fragments using screws and wires is challenging, Stewart said. For precise reconstruction of small bones, health officials have acknowledged that a biocompatible, biodegradable adhesive could be valuable because it would reduce metal hardware in the body while maintaining proper alignment of fractures.

Stewart and colleagues duplicated the glue that sandcastle worms (Phragmatopoma californica) use while building their homes in intertidal surf by sticking together bits of sand and broken sea shells. The inch-long marine worm had to overcome several adhesive challenges in order to glue together its underwater house, and its ingenuity has served as a recipe for Stewart's research team in developing the synthetic adhesive.

Stewart's challenge was to devise a water-based adhesive that remained insoluble in wet environments and was able to bond to wet objects. The team also concentrated on key details of the natural adhesive solidification process — a poorly timed hardening of the glue would make it useless, Stewart said. They learned the natural glue sets in response to changes in pH, a mechanism that was copied into the synthetic glue.

The new glue, says Stewart, a bioengineer at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, has passed toxicity studies in cell culture. It is at least as strong as Super Glue and is twice as strong as the natural adhesive it mimics, he notes.

"We recognized that the mechanism used by the sandcastle worm is really a perfect vehicle for producing an underwater adhesive," Stewart said. "This glue, just like the worm's glue, is a fluid material that, although it doesn't mix with water, is water soluble."

Stewart has begun pilot studies focused on delivering bioactive molecules in the adhesive that could allow it to fix bone fragments and deliver medicines to the fracture site, such as antibiotics, pain relievers or compounds that might accelerate healing.

"We are very optimistic about this synthetic glue," he said. "Biocompatibility is one of the major challenges of creating an adhesive like this. Anytime you put something synthetic into the body, there's a chance the body will respond to it and damage the surrounding tissue. That's something we will monitor, but we've seen no indication right now that it will be a problem."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Secrets Of The Sandcastle Worm Could Yield A Powerful Medical Adhesive." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 September 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090817184433.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2009, September 27). Secrets Of The Sandcastle Worm Could Yield A Powerful Medical Adhesive. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090817184433.htm
American Chemical Society. "Secrets Of The Sandcastle Worm Could Yield A Powerful Medical Adhesive." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090817184433.htm (accessed September 19, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, September 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins