Surgeries and emergency treatments might never be the same again.
A group of biomedical engineers from the University of Sydney, Northeastern University, and Harvard University have developed a type of surgical glue that can seal wounds in just a minute, potentially saving lives in emergencies, the researchers say.
It's called MeTro, and its highly elastic properties make it the perfect material for sealing wounds, especially in body tissues that expand and relax, such as the heart, lungs, and arteries, which are also at risk of reopening.
This injectable glue is made from a naturally occurring protein called tropoelastin and is applied directly to the wound. Once treated with ultraviolet light, the glue will form a complete seal, which entirely eliminates the need for staples or stitches.
According to a study published by the researchers in the Science Translational Medicine, the surgical glue was able to seal incisions in the arteries and lungs of rodents and lungs of pigs successfully - without using staples or sutures.
MeTro is a collaboration of different technologies: It utilizes the natural elastic protein technologies created with Anthony Weiss, the McCaughey Chair in Biochemistry of the University of Sydney; and combining it with light sensitive molecules developed with Ali Khademhosseini, the director of the Biomaterials Innovation Research Center at Harvard Medical School.
Northeastern University's Nasim Annabi, the study's lead author, handled the application of MeTro in various clinical conditions.
"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 Annabi.
Weiss further simplified the concept of MeTro, likening it to silicone sealants applied around bathroom and kitchen tiles.
Of course, the engineers have a long way to go before this surgical glue becomes widely implemented in hospitals and emergency rooms. MeTro hasn't even entered human testing yet, but that's certainly in the roadmap.
But thinking about it now, the potential applications are staggering. Instead of waiting for patients to be brought into an emergency room just to stitch them up, MeTro can help treat serious, fatal wounds right from the place of accident.
But its main purpose is to significantly help improve hospital surgeries for good, making sure wounds prone to reopening don't reopen.
Weiss said the group first needs to prove that MeTro is a viable solution across a range of different conditions and that it does what other current conventional sealants can't. Suppose it passes human testing, with the engineers able to prove that MeTro can indeed be a suitable alternative to sutures and stitches, this will certainly be groundbreaking progress in the field of chemical engineering and surgery. It's the kind of innovation that makes an old process never the same again.
"I hope MeTro will soon be used in the clinic, saving human lives," said Weiss.
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