Oysters, mussels, and (a growing list of) other bioglue sources

(Updated, 3 March 2014)

Previously, we have highlighted multiple types of naturally occurring biological glues (“bioglues”) that have been studied for their potential to be applied to human surgical/medical applications. (See “Bio Glues: Crab shells, spider webs, gecko feet, burrowing frogs, mussels and c. crescentus bacteria“).

Add to this list:

Nature-inspired surgical glue. Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Boston Children’s Hospital are developing a poly(glycerol sebacate acrylate) (PGSA), a gel-like biomaterial that is composed of glycerol, a common ingredient in pharmaceutical, food and other human use, and sebacic acid, a naturally occurring fatty acid. This biomaterial compound will potentially enable strong, non-toxic adhesion of tissues while being water insoluble, a set of key requirements for effective surgical glues that can function in internal (as opposed to topical) applications. See link.

Oysters. Research is being done by Jonathan Wilkder at Perdue University on the naturally occurring cement used by oysters to secure their shells to each other and to reefs making extensive structures. The “cement” has turned out to be 10% organic (a protein) and 90% inorganic calcium carbonate, which turns out to be only slightly different in proportions than the oysters’ shells.  Most importantly, and this is an important consideration in the study, this cement is wet-setting, which is a valuable characteristic of surgical glue or bone cement.

Since manufacturers wish to develop a surgical glue with the requisite strength while also being biocompatible, the bioglues of oysters, mussels and other organisms become acutely of interest.  By contrast, synthetically developed high strength glues are often cyanoacrylate-based or similar and are therefore characterized by toxicity in local tissues, limiting their use to topical applications.


Bioglues are a topic of coverage in MedMarket Diligence’s analysis of the global products, technologies and markets surgical sealants, glues and wound closure.  See “Worldwide Market for Surgical Sealants, Glues, Wound Closure and Anti-Adhesion, 2012-2017”, Report #S190, publishing February 2012.

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