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Blood-Resistant Glue Could Mend a Broken heart

Update Date: Jan 10, 2014 11:26 AM EST

Stitches and staples have been used by doctors for decades to fix any openings in the body. When people undergo surgeries, doctors routinely close them up with the help of these procedures. Now, according to new research, stitches and staples could be a thing of the past for heart, gut and blood vessel surgeries. Researchers reported that they have created medical glue that is blood-resistant and can be used to close up small internal wounds.

"We have developed a surgical glue that can be used in open and more invasive procedures and seal dynamic tissues such as blood vessels and the heart, as well as the intestines," stated one of the study's co-author, Professor Jeffrey Karp, a bioengineer from Brigham and Women's Hospital located in Boston, MA reported by BBC News. "We think that our glue could augment stitches or staples or possibly replace them. More importantly, this should open the door to a greater adaptation of minimally invasive procedures."

The research team composed of Karp, Robert S. Langer, a super scientist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Dr. Pedro del Nido, head of the cardiac surgery department at Boston Children's Hospital and fellow researchers from Boston, was inspired by certain animals, such as slugs that use sticky secretions, which allow them to cling onto surfaces particularly in wet environments. The researchers were able to create a polymer adhesive that is resistant to blood and water. Once the glue is applied to the wound, it is bounded by ultraviolet light for a few seconds. The product is nontoxic, biodegradable and fast drying.

The researchers have already tested this product on pig hearts, which resemble human hearts. During surgery, the researchers were able to successfully repair heart defects found in these animals. Despite the promising results, the researchers reported that more research would need to be conducted in order to determine the safety of the product on humans. The researchers believe that the glue could be available within the next two to three years. Karp and Langer created the company, Gecko Biomedical Co. in order to create the glue and potentially test it on humans.

"The cardiovascular system is a dynamic environment where there is continuous blood flow and tissue contractions and existing glues often don't work well in these conditions," commented Dr. Sanjay Thakrar of the British Heart Foundation. "These researchers seem to have found an innovative way to overcome these issues, which could be especially useful during minimally invasive procedures."

The product was described in a paper published by Science Translation Medicine.

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