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Salving shells

Life Science

Pullovers from oyster shells are no sailor’s yarn.

Mussels can also be a useful medical aid as a South Korean research team has proved with its biodegradable adhesive patch.

To make it, they combined sticky proteins from the shellfish with two polymers: polyacryl and sodium salt.

When dry, the patch is not adhesive. Instead, its adhesive effect comes into play in humid environments or during contact with liquids – think leaking internal wounds.

Tests showed that the patches maintained their adhesive properties on highly mobile organs such as the heart or bladder.

By adjusting the quantity of polyacrylic acid, the team was also able to improve durability and adjust degradation time.

Elsewhere, work is underway to print biomaterials directly onto wounds

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