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Mussels Inspire Researcher to Create Adhesive Blood Vessel Gel

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Dec 13, 2012 08:07 AM EST
Zebra Mussels
Zebra mussels are taking over Texas lakes, and water treatment plants as well as wildlife officials are battling these invasive shellfish to prevent them from multiplying further. (Photo : Wikimedia Commons/ GerardM)

A scientist has created a gel based on mussels' ability to adhere to objects like rocks and boat hulls.

Researcher Christian Kastrup, from the University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada, has created the gel that could withstand the flow of blood through arteries and veins.

The gel is similar to how amino acids enable mussels to resist the power of water. 

"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," Kastrup, a member of UBC's Centre for Blood Research, said in a statement.

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Kastrup suggested that the gel could be used to support weakened vessel walls that are at the risk of rupturing.

The gel could form a barrier between the blood and the vessel walls so as to prevent inflammation that occurs when a stent is inserted to widen a narrowed artery or vein. Stent is a mesh-like tube that is placed to prevent the arteries from re-closing. However, inflammation that is induced when a stent is placed often counteracts and prevents the opening of a vessel.

The newly-created gel could help in preventing inflammation to occur. It could also be used in other applications; for example, the gel might prevent the rupture of blood vessel plaque. When plaque ruptures, it could cause the formation of blood clot, resulting in blocking the blood flow to the heart or the brain. This triggers either heart attack or a stroke.

Kastrup found that the mice treated with gel and an anti-inflammatory steroid had a stable plaque when compared to untreated mice.

The findings of the study, "Painting blood vessels and atherosclerotic plaques with an adhesive drug depot", are published in the online journal PNAS Early Edition.

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