MIT’s innovative surgical tape can patch up wet organs and peel off harmlessly

June 25, 2020

Last year, a team of MIT engineers developed an impressive alternative to sutures – a surgical adhesive or double-sided tape that could stick to the wet surfaces of organs and even attach implantable medical devices to tissues. Now, the engineers have introduced a way to safely remove the adhesive when it’s no longer needed, without damaging the delicate organs or tissues beneath.

The original adhesive was made out of a material called polyacrylic acid, embedded with chemical groups called NHS esters. The material itself would absorb any excess liquid and form gentle hydrogen bonds to the tissue while the esters help form strong bonds with proteins on the tissue’s surface. To this the engineers addeda disulfide linker molecule, which can not only form strong bonds with tissue proteins but can release those bonds when exposed to certain reducing agents.

The engineers then found a workable reducing agent in glutathione, which is naturally found in many cells in the body andcan effectively cut the disulfide bonds when necessary.

In test samples, a mix of glutathione, baking soda and saline, was sprayed onto the adhesive with different concentrations of each; the engineers experimented on samples of the adhesive applied to pig organs like heart, lungs and intestines. The spray solution was seen to work in just five minutes, no matter how long the adhesive had been applied.

“The solution converts this extremely sticky adhesive to just a layer of slippery gel that you can easily peel off,” said MIT’s Xiaoyu Chen, also first author of the new study.

The engineers are currently working on different versions of the adhesive for use in different medical emergencies. They already have a version that allows for easy attachment/removal of devices to organs, where there wouldn’t be a clear upper surface of the adhesive to spray it onto – this one has tiny channels etched into it to allow the spray solution to seep through.

Category: Features, Technology & Devices

Comments are closed.