A squirtable super glue that seals wounds in seconds could transform medical treatment in emergency situations like war zones, and enhance healing after surgery.
The new glue is derived from a naturally produced elastic protein called tropoelastin. Researchers tested a version of this protein called methacrylated tropoelastin, which they nicknamed “MeTro”, publishing their findings in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
The glue can be applied to wounds, even ones inside the body, where it immediately becomes gel-like so it doesn’t leak away from the wound. The gel is then sealed into the cut using UV light. All in all, MeTro can seal wounds in a speedy 60 seconds.
“You can just squirt it onto a wound site, zap it with light and the whole thing sets in a matter of seconds,” Professor Anthony Weiss, from the University of Sydney, told ABC News.
“This particular treatment is revolutionary.”
MeTro’s speed could be hugely advantageous in emergency situations, by quickly sealing the wounds of people severely injured in war zones or car accidents, for instance.
At the moment, deep cuts and incisions from surgeries are generally sealed up using sutures, staples, or wire, which take time to apply and have limitations, especially in body parts like the lungs and arteries, where constant expansion and relaxation makes it tricky for wounds to heal.
"MeTro seems to remain stable over the period that wounds need to heal in demanding mechanical conditions and later it degrades without any signs of toxicity; it checks off all the boxes of a highly versatile and efficient surgical sealant with potential also beyond pulmonary and vascular suture and staple-less applications," said Weiss, in a statement.
Another feature of MeTro is that it can basically be programmed to last for as long as needed. It has an enzyme in it that can break it down, and this can be modified to make the glue last from hours to months. This means it could be used on all sorts of different types of wound.
So far, MeTro has not yet been tried out on humans, but it has been successfully shown to seal incisions in the lungs and arteries of rats, and the lungs of pigs. Now, the next step is to test it out on people.
“We're now ready to transfer our research into testing on people,” said Weiss. “I hope MeTro will soon be used in the clinic, saving human lives.”