Shellfish produce a substance that acts like glue in the presence of water. Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have mimicked it to make a bio-glue that stops bleeding in a matter of seconds.

The glue can close the wound in 15-30 seconds, which is many times faster than similar products. Tests in rats and pigs showed that the glue remained in place for several weeks before being slowly broken down by the body as the tissues healed. However, if necessary, it can be removed earlier by applying a special solution. Experiments also showed that the glue did not cause severe inflammation around the healing area.

Scientists were inspired by nature to create the glue. It is known that shells are firmly attached to stones, hulls of ships – to hard, wet and dirty surfaces. To gain a foothold on them, shells secrete two different fluids. The first is the oil, which repels and displaces water, allowing the second liquid – the protein-based glue – to adhere to the cleaned shale.

To mimic natural material, MIT scientists used previously developed medical adhesives. In 2019, scientists created a double-sided tape that can replace stitches when closing a wound or incision in an organ or skin. This time, they froze sheets of their material, pulverized it into tiny particles, and then suspended it in silicone oil.

Experiments have shown that glue works better than existing hemostats. They stop blood flow even in those experimental animals that have been given strong thrombolytics.

The research is published in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering.