Friday, July 9, 2010

Bone Glue

Repairing broken bones is a tricky proposition. They have to be kept exactly in place until they heal. If they heal wrong, the only remedy is to break them again and this time keep them in place. Simple fractures can be held together by keeping the area rigid, using a cast. More complex fractures have to be held together with a series of pins and screws, which will be removed after the bone has healed. And if the bone is totally shattered? Surgeons would like to use glue, but since the inside of the human body is like seawater, glue would never dry. Only wash away.
Discovery news reports that a species of worm that lives in the ocean makes a glue like substance that it uses to stick sand into complex structures. This glue somehow applies in a liquid state, evaporates something to "dry," and hardens to permanently bond structures together. All while underwater.
Biochemists are frantically working to reverse-engineer this sea-glue. The final compound would be applicable as a liquid, but would solidify on short order, holding bones together until the body re-absorbed the glue proteins, which it would do after the bone successfully healed. This would be a miracle in bone-fracture treatment, allowing treatment of injures that were previously inoperable.

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