Bioengineer Patrick Tresco, associate dean for research at the University of Utah's College of Engineering, says: "Most current adhesives do not work when surfaces are wet so they are no good for holding together bone, which is wet and bloody. There is nothing like it [the synthetic worm glue] on the market today."
The synthetic glue also can carry drugs, so it could be used to deliver pain killers, growth factors, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medicines or even stem cells to sites where bone fragments are glued, "simultaneously fixing the bone and delivering potent drugs or even genes to the spots where they are needed," Stewart says.
And where pieces of bone now are cut out due to cancer, the adhesive might be used to firmly attach "tissue scaffolds" used to encourage regrowth of the missing bone.
Stewart is seeking to patent the synthetic sea worm glue so it can be licensed to an outside company that would develop it as a product. He hopes to make better versions that have more bonding power, are biocompatible in the human body and biodegradable.
"Ultimately, we intend to make it so it is replaced by natural bone over time," Stewart says. "We don't want to have the glue permanently in the fracture." Stewart says some synthetic superglues or "instant glues" are used instead of sutures for superficial skin wounds. But because of toxicity or toxic byproducts, "they are not suitable for deep tissue use," including bone repair, he adds.
Building a Sandcastle Colony 'One Grain of Sand at a Time'
Stewart conducted the study with Hui Shao, a doctoral student in bioengineering; and Kent Bachus, a research associate professor of orthopaedics.
The study involved Phragmatopoma cal
|Contact: Lee Siegel|
University of Utah