Researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology have developed a glue gun to reassemble the human body when it has been seriously injured.
The pins and stitches currently used to treat serious injuries have drawbacks: they can be painful, leave scars, require a great skill of the doctor and, sometimes, must be removed after the tissues are cured. Sutures in the intestine, lungs, or blood vessels often leak and therefore require a sealant.
The medical glue that researchers have developed is a “two in one,” said Professor Boaz Mizrahi, head of the Technion Biomaterials Laboratory. It replaces both stitches and sealant, and is good for external and internal injuries, he said.
All types of medical glues are already being used in dermatology, surgery and other areas. The Israeli company Nanomedic Technologies Ltd., for example, has developed a medical device that says it can cover burns and other wounds with nano materials that mimic human tissue and break off once the skin underneath regenerates.
Even so, the glues currently in use to replace sutures and staples are limited by their mechanical properties and toxicity, the researchers said. Because they are very toxic, they can only be used on the surface of the skin. In addition, the hardening of the glue may make the organ less flexible or the adhesion may not be strong enough.
With these limitations in mind, researchers have been searching for a glue that is suitable for different tissues, nontoxic and flexible after hardening. Such glue would also have to decompose in the body after the tissue is fused.
Mizrahi worked together with PhD student Alona Shagan and came up with what they say is a “very strong and non-toxic tissue adhesive that remains flexible even after solidification.” His study was published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials.
Melt the glue and stain it on the damaged tissue using a hot glue gun. The gun heats the glue just above the body temperature so as not to cause a burn. After applying the glue, it hardens quickly and then decomposes in a few weeks. The adhesive is also suitable for use on tissues within the body, and is four times more resistant than the existing adhesives used for this purpose. According to the researchers, tested on cells and laboratory animals, it was effective and non-toxic.
The use of the polymer for medical purposes has been previously approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “We play with its physical structure,” Mizrahi said, to reduce the melting point of the polymer, but otherwise its chemical properties remain the same, so there is no need for additional approvals from the FDA, he said.
The polymer is inserted into a glue gun and melts with minimal pressure. It squeezes directly on the wound, where it solidifies, joining tightly with both edges of the wound, the Technion said in a statement.
Researchers believe that the new concept will lead to the development of devices that will reduce the use of stitches, staples and pins, accelerate the healing process and reduce scarring.
The university tested technology on animals and has patented it. Because its components are materials that have been previously approved by the FDA, Mizrahi hopes that “the product can reach the market in two or three years.” The university is now looking for a partner to commercialize the technology, he added.