Cheating on sticky mussels | BNR News Radio

If you’ve ever tried to pick mussels from an underwater rock, you know: it just doesn’t work that way. So it’s no surprise that scientists are keen to find out how well mussels stick together.

Of course so we can watch it from them afterwards. For years, attempts have been made to mimic the sticky substance that mussels produce in the laboratory. In the main role: eight proteins that can be found in mussel gum. Now researchers at Northwestern University have not only been able to copy it, but have also improved it.

The type of proteins that mussels use themselves occur in many places in nature. They are often characterized by long chains of amino acids in which the bonds are repeated. Despite the fact that even the order of these links is known, forgery remained difficult. In this new study, they put the building block of a protein into a synthetic polymer in a way that not only enhances the properties of mussel gum, but also enhances it.

This powerful new glue can be used to hold tissues together in the body. This is interesting for something like wound healing. They plan to try the same with a stretchable protein found in the insects’ legs and wings.

Read more about the research: Underwater mussel glue inspires industrial cement

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Megan Vasquez

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