A study published recently in Biomaterials showcases a new development in biomaterials that could forever change the way we perform surgeries. The innovation is a surgical bio-glue that not only stimulates faster healing of wounds and sutures while reducing inflammation and infection but also can serve as a way of drug delivery for pain relief.
Developed by a team of materials scientists from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore), the CaproGlu is made from a solid, flexible bio-rubber that can be resorbed by the tissue after a few weeks. The team showed on animal models that CaproGlu is capable of rejoining blood vessels in half the number of stitches (4) typically used following an incision (8). Additionally, the biomaterial can function on muscles and blood vessels even when their surfaces are wet.
The implications of such a material are exciting. The scientists say that the fewer stitches required could cut surgery time by a quarter, allowing surgeons more time to see more patients. Additionally, because the glue can be used to deliver local anesthetics or pain relief medication to tissues in the body, the need for pain relief medication following surgery could also decrease. Furthermore, because the material dissolves and resorbs on its own, surgical patients would not need to have follow-up appointments to remove sutures.
Named CaproGlu, it is activated by a low dose of ultraviolet light that cures it almost immediately. "To make our light-activated glue work on wet tissues, we engineered our glue to first remove water from the surface and thus allow adhesion to the dehydrated surfaces," said lead author Associate Professor Terry W.J. Steele. "This unique advantage of being able to bond with high strength in a wet environment, as well as being biocompatible, is what makes CaproGlu so suitable to be used in surgery and medical applications."
The many benefits of CaproGlu also include its ease of preparation. While most conventional bio-adhesives require two chemicals to be mixed prior to use, CaproGlu is a ready-made one-pot liquid gel solution. It is also compatible with gamma irradiation sterilization used for medical equipment and is three to seven times stronger than other commercial bioadhesives – almost equivalent to the shear strength of human collagen and muscle tissue.
The team plans to continue their investigations in additional animal models in order to evaluate the performance of CaproGlu on bone and other organic surfaces.