This barnacle-inspired glue seals bleeding organs in seconds
Then the pigs came. Yuk joined a team at Mayo Clinic that was better equipped to work on larger animals. The team wanted to avoid relying on the blood’s natural clotting ability, because many people who undergo surgery have blood clotting problems themselves. Therefore, prior to any experiments, the three pigs received a test of heparin, a blood thinner. The researchers cut three holes, 1 cm wide and 1 cm deep, in each of the animals’ livers, then treated the nine injuries with either TachoSil paste or a patch.
Tiffany Sarfian, one of the veterinary surgeons on the team, says she’s never seen anything that works like this glue. “We just put the putty on, and we’re preparing” for a few seconds, Sarafian says, recalling the procedure. “Raise your hand and I said, hang on, there’s no blood!” It was so amazing. “
Sarfian planned that if the commercial comparison patch didn’t work after three minutes, it would invert the anticoagulant in order to keep the pigs alive, then allow them to clot and heal normally. But she added another step to stop the bleeding faster: squeezing a pea-sized piece of trial gum. “It’s kind of a miracle, in a way,” she says.
To be fair, anticoagulant patches like TachoSil are not designed to stop copious blood flow from tissues with non-coagulable injuries. But in medicine, this is an unmet need, says Christoph Nebzdyk, MD, a cardiac anesthesiologist and critical care physician on the Mayo team. “With the aging population, you have more and more patients who either have acquired bleeding disorders or who eventually develop blood thinners,” he says. “The problem of bleeding and controlling it is big.”
He and Sarafian add that the presence of cheap glue stops heavy bleeding And On already wet surfaces it would potentially be lifesaving for patients, and would be especially useful in places that don’t have many surgical resources, such as in wilderness areas, combat zones, or less developed countries.
“There’s nothing entirely new about the material, but the concept is really cool and funky,” says partner Zhang, a biomedical engineer who leads a lab at Harvard Medical School. While materials such as silicone oil and adhesive ingredients are common, they are Mix Makes something exciting. “It’s very early,” he continues, “but the data on animals is very strong.”
But, says Wang, a resident in cardiothoracic surgery at Stanford University, there are still elements that need improvement before the adhesive can be used in humans. A ball of glue that seals damaged tissue in an emergency, or adheres to surrounding healthy tissue, may complicate any surgeries afterward. “The question is, will you be able to work in that area?” Asked.
Yuk’s team has devised a solution to reverse this type of adhesive seal, and initial results in mice are promising.
They also want to know how long that seal lasts; Ideally, it should not dissolve until after the tissue has healed on its own, but also it should not last forever. The new study showed that the paste significantly dissolved within 12 weeks, based on microscope images in a separate experiment using mice. Depending on the injury and the recovery response, that could be a lot.
Another challenge is that other types of sealants are known to kill tissue over time. Wang and Yuk noted that a long-term study would be necessary. So far, the longest observation of bleeding organs has been about a month after the placement of the glue, using pigs from Mayo Clinic testing.
And while it may still be many years before sealant paste replaces the secured suture, both surgeons and mechanical engineers would welcome the ability to glue patients back together quickly, to make objects work again like well-lubricated machines.
Correction August 24, 2021 at 5:08 PM ET: Article has been updated to clarify Christoph Nebzdyk’s title.
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