Breakthrough surgical glue
Published: 06 October 2017
Biomedical engineers have created a surgical glue that seals wounds in 60 seconds.
Our caption: The surgical glue in action
Image © 2017 AAP Image/ Supplied by University of Sydney
Australian and American biomedical engineers have developed a stretchy surgical glue that rapidly heals wounds, a "breakthrough" that has the potential to save lives in emergencies, its designers say.
The injectable glue, MeTro, is based on a naturally occurring protein called tropaelastin. It is applied directly to the wound and is then activated with UV light to form a complete seal, eliminating the need for staples or stitches.
Its elasticity means it's designed to work well on shape-changing internal organs like the lungs and heart.
A study published in journal Science Translational Medicine showed the glue quickly and successfully sealed incisions in the arteries and lungs of rodents and the lungs of pigs.
"The beauty of the MeTro formulation is that, as soon as it comes in contact with tissue surfaces, it solidifies into a gel-like phase without running away," said lead author Assistant Professor Nasim Annabi from the Department of Chemical Engineering at Northeastern University.
MeTro combines the natural elastic protein technologies developed in collaboration with author and University of Sydney biochemist Professor Anthony Weiss, with light sensitive molecules developed in collaboration with author and director of the Biomaterials Innovation Research Center at Harvard Medical School Professor Ali Khademhosseini.
Prof Weiss likens the glue to that of silicone sealants used around bathroom and kitchen tiles.
"When you watch MeTro, you can see it act like a liquid, filling the gaps and conforming to the shape of the wound."
While much more research is needed - with clinical testing on humans still to occur, Prof Weiss is optimistic about the study findings and the glue's future impact.
"The potential applications are powerful - from treating serious internal wounds at emergency sites such as following car accidents and in war zones, as well as improving hospital surgeries," Prof Weiss said.