Research ArticlesBioengineering

A Blood-Resistant Surgical Glue for Minimally Invasive Repair of Vessels and Heart Defects

Science Translational Medicine  08 Jan 2014:
Vol. 6, Issue 218, pp. 218ra6
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3006557

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Light-Activated Adhesive Seals Tissues

An easy way to repair vessels or attach devices to tissues would be welcomed by surgeons. An adhesive, for instance, can reconnect tissue and interface prosthetics, but currently available materials have limitations such as low strength, high toxicity, and most do not function well in wet environments. In response, Lang and colleagues developed a new biomaterial glue that is biocompatible, biodegradable, and easily manipulated. This material, called poly(glycerol sebacate acrylate) (PGSA), when combined with a photoinitiator, creates a solution that the authors called HLAA: hydrophobic light-activated adhesive. The HLAA is a thick gel that can be slathered on a tissue and then cross-linked within seconds by ultraviolet light, which is a unique feature that avoids stitches. The resulting bond is water-tight yet flexible and stays intact in the face of high pressure and flowing blood. The authors first tested their material in rats, showing that the HLAA could be used to attach a polymer patch to the heart and that the HLAA alone could seal up defects in the heart wall, performing as well as sutures. Lang et al. then moved into pigs, whose hearts beat at similar rates to humans (by contrast, rats have much higher heart rates). Lang et al. showed that the light-activated adhesive could attach a patch to the interventricular septum of a pig’s beating heart and that this patch remained in place even under higher than normal heart rates (induced by adrenaline). Additionally, the HLAA alone was able to immediately close up defects in the pig carotid artery without any bleeding complications.

The light-responsive adhesive performed well in several different in vivo scenarios, suggesting its broad applicability in the clinic, at least for cardiovascular surgeries and defects. As an added bonus, components of PGSA—namely, glycerol and sebacic acid—exist in the body and are readily metabolized. It is expected that this material could be translated soon to use in people.