A highly-elastic glue could be the future of treating wounds inflicted in car accidents or war zones, after it was shown to successfully seal open incisions in less than one minute.
The “potentially life-saving” MeTro gel, which is just administered directly to the site of the injury by squirting it from a syringe, could transform the way surgery is performed by negating the need for common staples and sutures.
Professor Anthony Weiss said: “The potential applications are powerful.”
A team of biomedical engineers, from the University of Sydney, developed the adhesive substance, which is similar to silicone sealants used around bathroom and kitchen tiles, according to Professor Weiss.
Once applied to the area, it is treated with UV light and sets within 60 seconds.
It is also at this stage that it can be treated with a built-in degrading enzyme that can be modified to determine how long it lasts (between hours and months) before disintegrating. Unlike stitches that would have often required removal.
Once it has degraded, there is no signs of toxicity left in the body.
So far it has been most useful for sealing wounds in body tissues that continually expand and relax, such as lungs, heart and arteries, that are otherwise at risk of re-opening with classic methods of stitching.
It also works on internal wounds that are often in hard-to-reach areas and have typically required staples or sutures due to surrounding body fluid hampering the effectiveness of other sealants.
Published in Science Translational Medicine journal, Assistant Professor Nasim Annabi, lead author on the study, said: “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.”
So far it has been tested on incisions in the arteries and lungs of rodents and pigs, but it is hoped that the next step will be clinical trials in humans.