By Ladd (DePaul University student)
Have you ever broke a bone before and did it take multiple months for it to heal? Did you wish that there was a way that you could just "glue" it back together so it could heal faster? Well, this might be very possible in the near future! Recently, scientists at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City discovered a way to use a natural substance that could revolutionize the world of medicine concerning fractured bones.
It involves using a product that is based off of the secretions of a marine worm to "glue" fractured bones together. These sandcastle worms, Phragmatopoma californica, use these secretions to construct a shell out of debris, sand, and other broken shells. This glue hardens within 30 seconds underwater. This is possible because scientists have studied the structure of these proteins in their secretions.
They discovered that these proteins are very charged molecules, some of which are positive and negative. These opposite charges are very attracted to each other which causes the glue to bind so tightly. Because many weak interactions add up to form a strong interaction, these charge attractions create an overall strong bond. As a result of their studies, they created a product that uses similar proteins that makes even stronger bonds.
As a result, their product is twice as strong as the natural proteins and can harden underwater as well. This "glue" can quicken the process of healing fractured bones. There has even been research to show that this practice would work in surgery by using bone cells in test tubes. These tests proved that this technique is neither toxic nor harmful to the body. However, scientists are currently conducting experiments to see if the glue will dissolve after the bone has healed. This substance would greatly decrease the healing time of a broken bone. Once scientists completely understand the properties of these techniques, it will only be a matter of time before it is used and widely circulated in modern medicine.
So if you happen to break a bone in the future, just hope that doctors will have this "glue" to heal your broken bone faster so it will only be a mild inconvenience!
Original story published in Science News.