Scientists are developing a synthetic version of a natural glue made by sandcastle worms in the hope that it will help to repair shattered bones.
Russell Stewart, associate professor of bioengineering at the University of Utah, explained that fractures at the top of a bone in a joint can be difficult to repair and the patient can end up with arthritis.
Around eight million people in the UK are affected by arthritis, which causes pain and limited movement.
The synthetic sea worm glue could be used to glue the pieces of bone together so that they are aligned as well as possible, reducing the risk of arthritis.
Professor Stewart's team has now published a study in the journal Macromolecular Biosciences in which it reveals the results of tests on pieces of cow bone.
They hope to test the glue on animals within the next couple of years, and on humans within five to ten years.
Bioengineer Patrick Tresco, associate dean for research at the University of Utah's College of Engineering, added: "Most current adhesives do not work when surfaces are wet so they are no good for holding together bone, which is wet and bloody.
"There is nothing like it [the synthetic worm glue] on the market today."
Independent advice on private healthcare