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Sticking rather than stitching in surgery
October 22, 2017, 4:50 pm

In spite of medical advances, wound-related complications arising after operations can still be life-threatening. Particularly with internal wounds, there is a risk of hemorrhage, which is difficult to treat because it is not easy to stitch or apply a plaster to internal wounds.

Now, a new nanoparticle-based tissue glue developed by researchers at Empa, the interdisciplinary research institute in Switzerland, promises to avoid such complications in the future. The innovative tissue glue helps to close wounds optimally in areas where they are difficult to locate or access, and to avoid diffuse and often life-threatening hemorrhages. The idea of a tissue glue is not new: conventional glues consist primarily of fibrin, a protein produced by the body which plays a key role in clotting the blood. Fibrin is not only very expensive, but can also trigger immune responses, which frequently result in serious complications.

It has now been discovered that nanoparticles have an adhesive property, known as ‘nano-bridging’ that allow certain nanoparticles such as silica (silicon dioxide) and iron oxide nanoparticles to stick pieces of tissue together. Researchers at Empa used this innovative principle to develop a tissue glue to be used in the future for various operations and complaints. They created nanoparticles from various material combinations, with a view to making the glue bioactive.

A combination of glue and bioglass makes the blood clot more quickly at the location of the wound. Depending on the combination of the elements silicon, calcium, sodium and phosphorus, bioglass has various different properties. If the ideal combination is achieved, this will open up completely new treatment possibilities. Depending on the formula, for example, bioglass may form effective bonds with bones or soft tissue. The researchers also ensured that none of the materials used were harmful to health.

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