Adhesive polymers inspired by marine glue proteins

POLY 278

Phillip B. Messersmith,, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Northwestern University, 2145 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208
The marine environment contains many examples of interesting robust adhesive strategies that can inspire the design of novel synthetic adhesives. In particular, marine organisms such as mussels, barnacles and reef-building worms employ specialized protein glues that adhere well to surfaces despite the presence of water. Mussels secrete prototypical examples collectively referred to as mussel adhesive proteins (MAPs). Studies have shown that the catecholic amino acid, L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (DOPA), which is abundantly found in MAPs, plays a key role in establishing chemical interactions between MAPs and various metal, metal oxide, and polymer surfaces. In this talk I will describe our recent approaches to synthetic polymer mimics of MAPs. The polymer mimics are being designed for medical and nonmedical applications where adhesion to wet surfaces is problematic. In the medical arena, the polymers may be used as injectable liquids for surgical tissue adhesion or as components of mucoadhesive drug delivery systems.