Sea worm provides sticky solution

A team of US scientists have created a glue derived from an industrious marine worm that could help surgeons repair shattered bones.

Scientists hope the new bonding material will one day replace the metal wires, pins and screws used to hold bone fragments in place.

To create it, researchers copied a natural glue secreted by the sandcastle worm, which cements together sand grains and sea shell fragments to build a protective home.

The biodegradable adhesive is both super-strong and unaffected by water. Like the worm’s glue on which it is based, it sets in response to changes in acidity.

Currently nails, wires, pins and metal screws are used to support broken bones until they can bear weight.

Glue would have the advantage of avoiding metal hardware in the body and make it easier to fasten small bone fragments.

The inch-long sandcastle worm, Phragmatopoma californica, overcame several engineering challenges to evolve its underwater adhesive.

Josh Sandberg

Josh Sandberg is the President of Ortho Spine Partners and Partner for The De Angelis Group. He also serves as Co-Founder and Editor of OrthoSpineNews.

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