The substance secreted by mussels, also known as nature’s glue, is a type of liquid protein that hardens rapidly into a solid water-resistant adhesive material. While in seawater or saline conditions, mussels can adhere to all types of surfaces, sustaining its bonds via mussel adhesive proteins (MAPs), a group of proteins containing 3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (DOPA) and catecholic amino acid. Several aspects of this adhesion process have inspired the development of various types of synthetic materials for biomedical applications. Further, there is an urgent need to utilize biologically inspired strategies to develop new biocompatible materials for medical applications. Consequently, many researchers have recently reported bio-inspired techniques and materials that show results similar to or better than those shown by MAPs for a range of medical applications. However, the susceptibility to oxidation of 3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine poses major challenges with regard to the practical translation of mussel adhesion. In this review, various strategies are discussed to provide an option for DOPA/metal ion chelation and to compensate for the limitations imposed by facile 3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine autoxidation. We discuss the anti-proliferative, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial activity, and adhesive behaviors of mussel bio-products and mussel-inspired materials (MIMs) that make them attractive for synthetic adaptation. The development of biologically inspired adhesive interfaces, bioactive mussel products, MIMs, and arising areas of research leading to biomedical applications are considered in this review.
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