The surgical glue, called MeTro, is a development from biomedical engineers at the University of Sydney and biomedical engineers from Harvard University.
MeTro has a high elasticity that can seal wounds in body tissues that need to expand and contract continuously, like the lungs, heart and arteries. Wounds on these types of tissues are prone to re-opening after sealing with staples and sutures.
The glue is also beneficial for wounds that are in hard-to-reach places that have traditionally needed staples or sutures because of body fluids interfering with other sealants.
“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,” director of the Biomaterials Innovation Research Center at Harvard Medical School professor Ali Khademhosseini said in a press release.
When treated with UV light, MeTro takes just 60 seconds to set. It has a built-in degrading enzyme that can customized for the amount of time needed to allow a wound to heal.
“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,” Nasim Annabi, lead author of the study, said. “We then further stabilize it by curling it on-site with a short light-mediated cross linking treatment. This allows the sealant to be very accurately place and to tightly bond and interlock with structures on the tissue surface.”
So far, MeTro has quickly and successfully sealed artery incisions in the lungs of rodents and pigs without the use of sutures and staples.
Harvard researchers were also recently inspired by slug mucus to to create an adhesive to eliminate the need for staples and sutures.
One of the researchers, University of Sydney professor Anthony Weiss, suggests that the process in which MeTro works is similar to how silicone sealants work 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,” Weiss said. “It responds well biologically and interfaces closely with human tissue to promote healing. The gel is easily stored and can b squirted directly onto a wound or cavity.”
The researchers also suggest that the concept of MeTro could be used in emergency situations in addition to in surgical procedures and hopes to start clinical testing soon.
“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,” Weiss said.
The research was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.