Scientists develop strong adhesive for wound healing

Jul 31, 2017 16:11 IST

A team of researchers from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) developed a super strong, flexible bio-glue for wound healing without causing toxicity.

The bio-glue is inspired by an adhesive material secreted by slugs that sticks to biological tissues. Slugs naturally secrete a special kind of mucus in its place when threatened, making it difficult for a predator to pry it off its surface.

The research was reported on 28 July 2017 in journal Science.

Scientists develop strong adhesive for wound healing

Key highlights of the bio-glue

The material is the combination of a very strong adhesive force and the ability to transfer and dissipate stress, which have historically not been integrated into a single adhesive.

It is a double-layered hydrogel consisting of an alginate-polyacrylamide matrix supporting an adhesive layer that has positively-charged polymers protruding from its surface.

The polymers bond to biological tissues via three mechanisms: electrostatic attraction to negatively charged cell surfaces, covalent bonds between neighbouring atoms, and physical interpenetration. These three mechanisms make the adhesive extremely strong.

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The adhesive is able to dissipate energy through its matrix layer, which enables it to deform much more before it breaks.

The team’s design for the matrix layer includes calcium ions that are bound to the alginate hydrogel via ionic bonds. When stress is applied to the adhesive, those ionic bonds break first, allowing the matrix to absorb a large amount of energy before its structure becomes compromised.

The researchers tested their adhesive on a variety of both dry and wet pig tissues including skin, cartilage, heart, artery, and liver. It was found that it bound to all of them with significantly greater strength than other medical adhesives.

The adhesive also maintained its stability and bonding when implanted into rats for two weeks, or when used to seal a hole in a pig heart that was mechanically inflated and deflated and then subjected to tens of thousands of cycles of stretching.

In addition, the glue did not cause any tissue damage or adhesions to surrounding tissues when applied to a liver haemorrhage in mice.

Source: Wyss Institute at Harvard University

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