Surgical ‘Duct Tape’ Could Make Sutures Obsolete

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Engineers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed biocompatible surgical “duct tape” that may serve as an alternative or reinforcement to traditional sutures.

In initial testing, the bioadhesive patch performed well in various animal models to repair large tears and wounds in the colon, stomach and intestines.

“We chose gastrointestinal (GI) organs due to their high rate of post-surgical leakages and detrimental complications in the current study, but the developed bioadhesive patch can be used for other organs such as lung, vessels, etc,” co-lead investigator Dr. Hyunwoo Yuk, research scientist in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, told Reuters Health by email.

“Inspired by the convenience and effectiveness of duct tape in nonmedical applications, the GI patch offers facile, atraumatic, fluid-tight, robust, and sutureless sealing of GI defects while addressing key limitations of sutures and commercially available tissue adhesives and sealants,” the researchers explain in Science Translational Medicine.

“The GI patch integrates a nonadhesive top layer to provide mechanical reinforcement with a dry bioadhesive bottom layer to offer rapid and robust adhesion to the underlying GI tissue. This design and incorporation of the dry cross-linking mechanism render a preparation-free, ready-to-use GI patch,” they add.

The GI patch binds strongly to tissues within several seconds, holds an extended period of time and then gradually degrades without causing inflammation or harm to surrounding tissues. It’s flexible and can expand and contract as healing occurs, the researchers say.

Dr. Yuk said the researchers are “actively pursuing” other possible uses for the patch.

“We have setup a spinout startup from MIT, named SanaHeal, to push commercialization of our bioadhesive technologies including this patch,” he told Reuters Health.

This research was supported by the MIT Deshpande Center and the Centers for Mechanical Engineering Research and Education at MIT and SUSTech. Dr. Yuk and MIT co-investigator Dr. Zuanhe Zhao are inventors on the patent describing the bioadhesive patch and have a financial interest in SanaHeal Inc.

SOURCE: Science Translational Medicine, online February 2, 2022.

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