Bio-inspired adhesive aims to speed up wound closure

Researchers in the US have taken inspiration from the way mussels stick to underwater surfaces to develop a new adhesive for the medical industry.

Working in collaboration with the University of Texas-Arlington, the Penn State University team incorporated the chemical structure of a mussel's adhesive protein into the design of an injectable synthetic polymer. The bio-adhesives, called iCMBAs, are said to adhere well in wet environments, have controlled degradability, improved biocompatibility and lower manufacturing costs, putting them a step above current products such as fibrin glue and cyanoacrylate adhesives. The researchers tested the newly developed iCMBAs on rats, using the adhesive and finger clamping to close three wounds for two minutes. Three other wounds were closed using stitches. According to Jian Yang, an associate professor of bioengineering at Penn State, the iCMBAs provided nearly eight times stronger adhesion in wet tissue conditions compared to fibrin glue. They also stopped bleeding instantly, facilitated wound healing, closed wounds without the use of sutures and offered controllable degradation. "If you want the material to stay there for one week, we can control the polymer to degrade in one week," said Yang. "If you want the material to stay in the wound for more than a month, we can control the synthesis to make the materials degrade in one month." The iCMBAs are also non-toxic, and because they are fully synthetic, Yang says they are unlikely to cause allergic reactions. The researchers are now looking at adding in components that could control infection.