Advanced surgical glues that seal wounds faster could mean big things when it comes to medical care, with shorter recovery times and fewer complications just a couple of potential advantages. A new material is showing particular promise in this regard, with the ability to be squirted directly into a wound, seal it in 60 seconds and dissolve thereafter.
The researchers behind the surgical glue, which is called MeTro, say that it could replace staples and sutures used by doctors to seal up wounds, but its benefits don't stop there. Because it is so fast-acting, it could be used at emergency sites, such as a car accident or a war zone, with the scientists likening its behavior once squirted into the wound to silicone sealants used around bathroom tiles.
"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 Assistant Professor Nasim Annabi from Northeastern University, who worked with other researchers in the US and Australia's University of Sydney in developing MeTro.
The gel-like glue mixes natural, highly elastic proteins with light-sensitive molecules that enable it to set in 60 seconds when exposed to UV light. This UV-treatment cures the glue and allows it to form tight bonds with structures on the surface of the tissue, which maintains its elasticity. Also included is a degrading enzyme that can be manipulated to determine how long the glue lasts in the wound, ranging from hours to months, depending on the time it needs to heal.
Because of the glue's high elasticity, it could be suitable for treating wounds in tissues that expand and relax and are therefore at risk of re-opening, like the lungs or heart. The team says it could also prove valuable in treating internal wounds in places where bodily fluids ruin the effectiveness of more conventional sealants.
Annabi was the lead author of the new study putting MeTro through its paces, where the team quickly and successfully closed wounds in rodent arteries and lungs, along with the lungs of pigs. Buoyed by the results, he and the team are now shifting their focus towards human trials.
"MeTro seems to remain stable over the period that wounds need to heal in demanding mechanical conditions and later it degrades without any signs of toxicity, it checks off all the boxes of a highly versatile and efficient surgical sealant with potential also beyond pulmonary and vascular suture and staple-less applications," says Harvard Medical School Professor Ali Khademhosseini, who helped develop MeTro.
The team has published their results in the journal Science Translational Medicine, while the video below provides an overview of how MeTro works.
Source: University of Sydney