At the moment, deep cuts and incisions from surgeries are generally sealed up using sutures, staples, or wire, which take time to apply and have limitations, especially in body parts like the lungs and arteries, where constant expansion and relaxation makes it tricky for wounds to heal.
So far, MeTro has not yet been tried out on humans, but it has been successfully shown to seal incisions in the lungs and arteries of rats, and the lungs of pigs. According to the researchers, MeTro's high elasticity makes it ideal for sealing cuts in body tissues that expand and relax continually, such as hearts, lungs, and arteries. "This allows the sealant to be very accurately placed and to tightly bond and interlock with structures on the tissue surface".
The surgical glue can also be used on internal wounds that are often hard-to-reach areas, and which usually require sutures or staples. The process resembles that of silicone sealants used around bathroom and kitchen tiles.
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"You can just squirt it onto a wound site, zap it with light and the whole thing sets in a matter of seconds", said Prof.
"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 lead author Assistant Professor Nasim Annabi from the Department of Chemical Engineering at Northeastern University.
"It responds well biologically, and interfaces closely with human tissue to promote healing".
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. "The gel is easily stored and can be squirted directly onto a wound or cavity", Weiss said.
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"Wouldn't it be fantastic to have a material that you could literally squirt onto that lung ... so you could start to breathe normally again".
The material is based on a natural elastic protein, methacrylated tropoelastin - or MeTro for short. However, for now the glue has only been tested on animals but, the human trials are also in works, reported Science Alert. Another researcher Anthony Weiss informed, "The potential applications are powerful - from treating serious internal wounds at emergency sites such as following vehicle accidents and in war zones, as well as improving hospital surgeries".
"We're now ready to transfer our research into testing on people", said Weiss.
"In our in vivo studies, 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", said Khademhosseini.
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