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A biofilm adhesive.
  [vote for,

Bacteria naturally secrete gummy capsules around themselves which, in certain colonies, bind together to form matrices in which individual cell is held. These are called biofilms and pose a large problem to the health industry as they quickly form on many items such as surgical equipment of body implants and can be incredibly difficult to remove. I propose to engineer a bacterial strain that will secrete a natural adhesive that will bind two items together, then die leaving a strong matrix. The advantage of such an adhesive would be that it would actually spread itself allowing it to penetrate hard to reach cracks or spaces. Alternatively this could be used as a surgical fixative or protective coating, assuming that the bacteria can be engineered to prevent infection.
Postscript, Mar 08 2010

Bacteria in sticky medium: Bacteria-filled gum may help fight infections http://www.vancouve.../2654359/story.html
Or it might mutate ... [rcarty, Mar 09 2010]

Use of bacteria to repair cracks in concrete http://www.scienced...c8c4706a81cf107d471
Bacteria + silica gel = CaCO3 [phoenix, Mar 11 2010]

Wikiquote: Blade Runner, Tyrell talking to Roy. http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Blade_Runner
Yep. [jutta, Mar 11 2010]


       i dunno I always thought that surface tension did a pretty good job of filling cracks and crevices on clean and chemically receptive surfaces. How much time to form a "workable" bond?
WcW, Mar 08 2010

       Interesting idea, though I don't know how strong the adhesive actually is. One thing: many biofilms form at interfaces (solid/water, water/air), so they may not thrive in narrow gaps. But [+] for the lateral thinking. You should google "biomimesis".
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 08 2010

       Horses already secrete a natural glue, which can be extracted after they die by prolonged boiling.
bungston, Mar 08 2010

       mini coral ?
FlyingToaster, Mar 08 2010

       [WcW] Cyanoacrylate's used as a surgical glue: it tracks nicely into crevices by capillary action, but that works best with clean, dry surfaces: it won't track into a crevice that's already filled with liquid, and, in general, works poorly when there's more than a trace of moisture present. Perhaps this idea would be a solution to that problem.   

       [Postscript] For the adhesive, I suggest fibrin glue. However, you're still proposing to grow "stealth" bacteria, invisible to the immune system, in surgical sites. The self destruct mechanism had better be foolproof.
mouseposture, Mar 09 2010

       [Mouseposture] I don't think anything involved in biology could be described as "foolproof", there's always the chance of that random mutation, but I'm reasonably sure that developing precision apostatic mechanism can be done. Perhaps even "null" virii could be preloaded into the bacteria that will assemble inside the organism and lyse the cell, but will have no genetic material of their own loaded into them.
Postscript, Mar 09 2010

       We've already tried it. Ethyl methane sulfonate as an alkylating agent - a potent mutagen. It created a virus so lethal the subject was dead before he left the table.
normzone, Mar 09 2010

       [link] tangentally relevent to tangental thread.
rcarty, Mar 09 2010

       //We've already tried it. Ethyl methane sulfonate as an alkylating agent - a potent mutagen. It created a virus so lethal the subject was dead before he left the table.//   

       You can't say that without adding a [linky] so we can all read the story.
Custardguts, Mar 11 2010

       "We've already tried it. Ethyl methane sulfonate as an alkylating agent - a potent mutagen. It created a virus so lethal the subject was dead before he left the table."
Bladerunner, right? Tyrell talking to Roy? Or am I way off base?
phoenix, Mar 11 2010

       I used to use Roy in a talk to illustrate the principle of apoptosis. I removed the slide after it turned out no-one in my audiences had seen the movie.
bungston, Mar 11 2010

       [bungston] anno#1: Yes, but how many horses die by prolonged boiling every year? Does it happen often enough to ensure supply?   

       [bungston] anno#2: That's horrifying. What on earth is wrong with people?   

       [Postscript] A virus is by definition a bundle of genetic material. So at least one of us is not sure what you're trying to say there.   

       Re the idea itself: I'm not remotely convinced you can engineer a living thing to grow entirely, and only, where you desire.
BunsenHoneydew, Mar 19 2010

       [BunsenHoneydew] To clarify: a virus is essentially a protein encapsulated bundle of genetic material, like you said. What I'm suggesting would be a virus that is all protein, no genetic material. Perhaps "virus" is not the totally correct term, but the principle of implanted DNA or RNA hijacking the cells functions to create proteins that self assemble before lysing the cell is pretty much the same.
Postscript, Mar 22 2010


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