Life Saving Gel From Mussels
December 12, 2012

Mussels Inspire Potential Life Saving Goo

Lee Rannals for — Your Universe Online

Researchers have created a gel that can be painted onto the walls of blood vessels, which could eventually help save lives.

The gel can help to prevent the inflammation that typically occurs when a stent is inserted to widen a narrowed artery or vein. This inflammation often counteracts the opening of the vessel that the stent was intended to achieve.

The team wrote about the gel in the current issue of the online journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition. They said the gel was inspired by the amino acid that enables mussels to resist the power of churning water.

The adhesive mussels use to stick to shores inspired the new medical glue, which can be used to reattach and hold together severed blood vessels.

“By mimicking the mussel´s ability to cling to objects, we created a substance that stays in place in a very dynamic environment with high flow velocities,” Assistant Professor Christian Kastrup, a member of the University of British Columbia's Centre for Blood Research, said in a statement.

Researchers said the variant used could withstand the flow of blood through arteries and veins, which helps to form a protective barrier.

They said the strength of the gel could shore up weakened vessel walls at risk of rupturing, similar to how putty can fill in dents in a wall.

The widest application the gel could be use for is preventing the rupture of blood vessel plaque. When this ruptures, the resulting clot can block blood flow to the heart or brain, triggering a heart attack or stroke.

Mice that have been treated with a combination of the gel and an anti-inflammatory steroid had more stable plaque than a control group of untreated mice.

The team wrote in the journal the treatment lowers plasma cytokine levels and biomarkers of inflammation in the plaque.

"The drug-eluting devices developed here provide a general strategy for implanting therapeutics in the vasculature using adhesive forces and could potentially be used to stabilize rupture-prone plaques," the authors concluded in an abstract of the journal.