EVANSTON, Ill., Jan. 22 (UPI) -- Glue mussels use to stick to rocks has inspired a sealant that could repair defects in the membrane surrounding the human fetus, scientists in Illinois say.
The sealant, tested on living fetal tissue in animal experiments, was found to be both "biocompatible and effective at sealing the tiny holes -- two features essential in such a material," said Phillip Messersmith, a biomedical engineer at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.
Defects in fetal membranes are caused by incisions during endoscopic surgeries, birth defects or spontaneous rupture. A biocompatible material is needed to repair defects that don't naturally repair themselves, Messersmith wrote in a recent issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.
Messersmith and associates from Canada, Belgium and Switzerland found the mussel-inspired glue was less toxic and had better bonding ability than medical-grade glues.
The key to the sealant is a family of unique mussel adhesive proteins containing a high concentration of dihydroxyphenylalanine, an amino acid.