Bound to get to the heart of a sticky problem

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science Translational Medicine  20 Nov 2019:
Vol. 11, Issue 519, eaaz9755
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aaz9755


A cleverly designed biodegradable double-sided sticky tape can adhere soft tissues together or to implantable medical devices.

One of the holy grails of biomaterial research is to figure out a way to bond wet or blood-soaked soft biological tissues together or to medical devices. There have been many attempts to find sticky biomaterial alternatives to conventional suturing and stapling which, despite their widespread use, often result in time consuming procedures or excessive tissue trauma, respectively. To date, many of the chemical-based adhesives that have reached the market are cumbersome to apply or only work well in specific subsets of tissue types. A key challenge in bonding to soft tissues is overcoming the interfacial water film that coats the wet tissue and creates a chemically crosslinked adhesion between the glue and the tissue.

Yuk and colleagues believe they have found a solution to this challenge. They designed a double-sided sticky tape comprised of biopolymers and crosslinked poly(acrylic acid) grafted with N-hydrosuccinimide ester that works in two stages. First, the tape’s biopolymer component forms a hydrogel, drawing water into the tape and effectively drying the tissue surface to create a near-instantaneous temporary bond. Subsequently, covalent crosslinking with amine groups on the tissue surface provides a long-term stable bond. Impressively, the research team show that their adhesive can be used to stick a patch to the epicardium of a beating rat heart. They also illustrate that the biodegradation rate of the tape can be tuned by changing the biopolymer component. Ex vivo mechanical testing of bonds with wet porcine skin demonstrates superior interfacial toughness and shear and tensile strength compared with several commercially available tissue adhesives. Further tests show the universal potential of this adhesive in bonding to multiple soft tissue types and implantable device materials.

Despite the promising acute data, longer term in vivo studies will be necessary to satisfy regulatory bodies and to prove that this tape works in relevant clinical scenarios. Will local differences in tissue hydration and edema affect the degree of tape swelling, adhesive performance, and ultimately the wound healing response? Regardless, it might not be long until this double-sided stick tape rolls out to clinical use.

Highlighted Article

Stay Connected to Science Translational Medicine

Navigate This Article