New glue can repair heart wounds
A newly-invented glue could replace replace stitches and staples to seal tears in heart tissue or blood vessels, according to research published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
The glue, invented by a team from Harvard Medical School and Boston Children's Hospital, is water-repellent and polymer-based and has the constituency of honey. A doctor can paint it onto a patch, and use the patch on the heart to repair a hole in tissue, or a surgeon could apply the glue directly to a tear in a blood vessel or intestinal wall, and clamp the edges of the torn tissue together until the glue hardens.
Once in place, the glue molecules work their way between the collagen fibers in the tissue. The surgeon then shines ultraviolet light on the glue, causing its molecules to release free radicals, which are highly reactive and bind molecules in the glue to one another, creating strong chains. The result is a substance that resembles rubber, with molecules that are intertwined with the heart's own collagen.
Human trials still need to be conducted. So far, the team has tested the glue on pigs and rats – repairing a carotid artery, inserting a patch into a living heart, and repairing tiny holes in the heart – all with success. The researchers say they may get approval to use the product in Europe by the end of 2015.