In medicine, there is a long-standing demand for biocompatible glues, which can be applied for the treatment of bone fractures or accelerated wound
healing. Biocompatible bio-glues must meet several demands, such as good binding strength to the tissue (adhesion), high stability under physiological, wet conditions (cohesion), controllable biodegradability, no immunogenicity in the organism as well as no toxicity. However, a bio-glue that meets these demands is currently not available.
Mussel bio-adhesives are protein-based natural polymeric materials and could meet the above mentioned demands. Therefore it has the potential to revolutionize small-bone surgery and wound healing.
However, extraction of these bio-adhesives from homogenized raw-shell material, is possible, but complicated, and is associated with environmental destruction, is expensive and results in very low yields. Chemical synthesis or biotechnological routes for simplified production of synthetic adhesive polymers with features similar to natural ones are still not feasible.
Scientist at TU Berlin now found a possibility for producing mussel proteins in E. coli whereby those caged proteins can be activated by simple irradiation with UV light at 365 nm. The advantages of such photo protected proteins are that they allow the production of photoactivatable bio-glues, thus one can avoid the currently well-known Dopa autoxidation to Dopaquinone as this was described to negatively impair the adhesive properties of the glue.
The photoactivatable, mussel-based bioadhesives are suitable for treatment of bone fractures and wound healing.