Despite gaps in their knowledge of how the mollusk produces the adhesive, scientists hope to re-create it
GAITHERSBURG, MD. -- "Nature didn't make mussel glue for man's instant gratification," says Herbert Waite, the marine biochemist who first isolated adhesive protein from the foot of the common blue mussel. But man certainly intends to make use of and profit from this novel material.

Last month, Genex Corp. - a Maryland biotechnology company - introduced its first glue based on the mussel adhesive. A second firm, BioPolymers Corp. of Farmington, Conn., has just gotten a patent on a synthetic version of the glue. But, Waite feels, neither firm will be able to take full advantage of this new glue until it better understands how the mussel makes the adhesive in the first place.

It took years for Waite, at the University of Delaware, to obtain the natural protein. And it may take...

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