In the ongoing quest to develop better ways of sealing wounds within the body, scientists have created surgical adhesives inspired by porcupine quills, mussels and slugs. Not all good ideas have to come from the animal kingdom, however. Recently, French researchers have had success in repairing internal organs using an adhesive solution that incorporates either silica or iron oxide nanoparticles.
The adhesive was developed by a team led by Ludwik Leibler from the Laboratoire Matière Molle et Chimie, and Didier Letourneur from the Laboratoire Recherche Vasculaire Translationnelle. It consists of an aqueous solution, in which the particles are suspended.
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Using the example of an incision in an internal organ, the solution is first applied to both edges of the incision using a brush or pipette, and then the two edges are temporarily pushed together. The nanoparticles will bond with the molecular network of the tissue, and with one another. The process takes just a few seconds, and results in the formation of "myriad connections" between the two surfaces. As the sealed wound subsequently heals naturally, the nanoparticles are harmlessly absorbed by the body.
In tests on lab rats, the solution was used to successfully close deep wounds on the liver – this was done by either gluing the wound edges to one another, or by applying a Band-Aid-like film patch that had been coated with the adhesive on one side. In all cases, the organs were able to once again function normally, and the rats survived.
Organs such as the liver, lungs or spleen are difficult to treat with sutures, as the delicate tissue has a tendency to tear when pulled on with a needle and thread. Additionally, there are reportedly no other adhesives that are both strong enough to hold the wet tissue together, that are also non-toxic.
The scientists additionally used the solution to close external wounds in the animals' skin, with no subsequent inflammation and very little scarring. They also demonstrated that the adhesive could be used to securely attach medical devices to organs and tissues, by gluing a polymer tissue-engineering scaffold to a beating rat's heart.
A paper on the research was recently published in the journal Angewandte Chemie.