A Super-Elastic Surgical Glue That Sticks and Seals In Vivo, Even When Tissues are Moving

Source: Harvard University

Summary: Biomedical engineers and clinicians came together and created a super-elastic sealant for surgical applications.

The most common things used by the surgeons to seal the ruptured or pierced organs and tissues are staples, sutures and wires. But these procedures have limitations, difficult to perform in hard-to-reach areas, wounds are often not sealed completely, tissues may be damaged further and infected. So there is a challenge posed by wounds in elastic tissues which continuously expand, contract and relax such as breathing lungs, pulsating arteries and beating heart. Therefore to provide a solution for these problems biomedical engineers at Wyss Institute, Harvard have developed a superelastic surgical sealant that can bond tissues to stop leakages. These findings are published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Surgical sealant from elastin

MeTro is applied directly to the wound and activated with light. Credit: University of Sydney

The researchers described that the sealant is derived from the human resilient-imparting protein called elastin, commonly found in elastic tissues such as artery walls, skin and lungs. This elastin can be tuned photochemically for effective sealing of incisions and repair wounds, all suture and staple-free. Large amounts of human tropoelastin is produced in E.coli bacteria through recombinant-DNA. A photocrosslinking reagent, methacrylate and a pulse of UV light is used to crosslink different tropoelastin proteins in a solution and finally created a versatile super-elastic hydrogel named as MeTro.

A wide range of MeTro hydrogels with different elasticities is generated by varying the concentrations of crosslinking reagent and tropoelastin. It was found that MeTro was significantly more effective in surgical sealing than the current clinically available sealants and sutures.

Dr. Nasim Annabi said, “The beauty of a MeTro formulation is that, as soon as it comes in contact with tissue surfaces, it solidifies into a gel-like phase without running away. We then can further stabilize it by curing it on-site with a short light-mediated crosslinking treatment. This allows the sealant to be very accurately placed and to tightly bond and interlock with structures on the tissue surface”.

More Information: Nasim Annabi et al, “Engineering a highly elastic human protein-based sealant for surgical applications”, Science Translational Medicine (2017). stm.sciencemag.org/lookup/doi/ … scitranslmed.aai7466

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