Mussel glue secret revealed, according to a report in ScienceNOW 14 Aug 2006. Mussels secrete a proteinaceous glue that works under water and seems to be able to stick to anything. Scientists have suspected that the secret lay in the large amounts of an amino acid called DOPA that is found in the mussel proteins gave the glue its special properties. To test this theory biomedical engineers at Northwestern University, Illinois attached a molecule of DOPA to the tip of an atomic force microscope and touched the tip to a titanium dioxide surface. They then measured how much force was needed to pull the DOPA off the surface. They found it took four times as much force as the previous record holders for two biological molecules stuck together. They also found that the DOPA bonds can be reformed under water. The researchers are hoping to develop glues that can be used in medical implants and for repairing damaged bones and tissue.

Editorial Comment It has already taken intelligent scientists doing clever experiments to understand the physical and chemical properties of mussel glue. It will take more creative biomedical engineering to apply these properties for medical uses. Therefore, it is foolish to believe that a mindless mussel affected by chance random processes made the glue in the first place. (Ref. biochemistry, shellfish, medicine)

Evidence News 30 August 2006