Biocompatible adhesives that will form and maintain bonds in wet environments are important for medical applications and are exciting much interest in the research community. Researchers at Purdue University have announced their development of a new adhesive formula to address unmet needs for biomedical adhesives. The new formula can also be adjusted to meet a variety of needs thanks to its environmentally responsive properties. The adhesive material, ELY16 is made from a polypeptide that is similar to elastin, a protein found in connective tissue.
The underlying principles behind the adhesive match those used by marine creatures like mussels and sandcastle worms. The new material undergoes chemical reactions after exposure to enzymes, converting into mELY16 and 3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (DOPA). DOPA helps the protein to bond with glass with an adhesion strength of around 250 kPa. When compared to fibrin sealants, mELY16 exhibits significantly greater bond strength. The researchers have concluded that the new adhesive protein shows potential for further commercial development as a smart biomedical adhesive.