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Elastic Surgical Glue Seals Wounds in 60 Seconds

A highly elastic and adhesive surgical glue that quickly seals wounds without the need for common staples or sutures could transform how surgeries are performed.

The highly elastic nature of the MeTro glue makes it ideal for sealing wounds in body tissues that continually expand and relax, and are therefore are at risk of re-opening, such as the heart, lungs and arteries. The material, described in Science Translational Medicine, also works on internal wounds in hard-to-access areas or where staples and sutures have been required because the surrounding body fluid hampers other sealants.

MeTro sets in just 60 seconds once treated with UV light. It has a built-in degrading enzyme that can be modified to determine how long the sealant lasts – from hours to months – to allow adequate time for the wound to heal. The liquid or gel-like material has quickly and successfully sealed incisions in the arteries and lungs of rodents and the lungs of pigs, without the need for sutures and staples.

MeTro combines the natural elastic protein technologies developed by co-author Prof Anthony Weiss of The University of Sydney with light-sensitive molecules developed by co-author Prof Ali Khademhosseini of Harvard Medical School.

Weiss likened the process to silicone sealants used 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,” he said. “It responds well biologically, and interfaces closely with human tissue to promote healing. The gel is easily stored and can be squirted directly onto a wound or cavity.

Khademhosseini said that “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,” he said.

Elastagen Pty Ltd is commercialising the technology, and Weiss said that the next stage for the technology is clinical testing. “We have shown MeTro works in a range of different settings and solves problems other available sealants can’t. We’re now ready to transfer our research into testing on people.”