MeTro is applied directly to the wound and activated with light. Source: University of SydneyMeTro is applied directly to the wound and activated with light. Source: University of Sydney

Biomedical engineers from the United States and the University of Sydney have developed an elastic and surgical glue that can help heal wounds in place of commonly used surgical staples and sutures.

Called MeTro, the glue is designed to close wounds that are at risk of expanding and reopening. The glue can also be used to seal internal wounds located in hard-to-reach places.

When treated with UV light, the glue can set in as little as 60 seconds and contains a degrading enzyme that can be modified to last as long as necessary to ensure adequate healing time.

Detailed in an article published in Science Translational Medicine, the glue has been successfully tested on pigs and rodents.

Northeastern University professor and lead study author Nasim Annabi 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," she said.

"We then further stabilize it by curing it on-site with a short light-mediated crosslinking treatment. This allows the sealant to be very accurately placed and to tightly bond and interlock with structures on the tissue surface."

Another researcher, University of Sydney's Professor Anthony Weiss, likened the process to the silicone sealants often found surrounding bathroom and kitchen tiles. "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," said Weiss. "The potential applications are powerful—from treating serious internal wounds at emergency sites such as following car accidents and in war zones, as well as improving hospital surgeries."

According to Professor Khademhosseini from Harvard Medical School, "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."

Researchers are now preparing to test the glue in clinical trials.

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