Sutures are commonly used to close wounds in the skin or other tissues. Similar to sewing fabric, the doctors will use a needle attached to a thread to penetrate the tissue and close the edges of the wound together, facilitating quick healing. Although surgical sutures have been used for thousands of years, they still have some limitations: 1) the needles cause some damage to the tissues; 2) insufficient suturing might allow blood or body fluids to leak from the wound. To circumvent these inherent problems with traditional sutures, Professor Xuanhe Zhao and his team from MIT developed a dry ‘double-sided tape’ that can quickly seal wounds within five seconds.
The tape is made of networks of polymers (materials containing very long chains of molecules) that can quickly absorb water and swell. When stored in a dry state, the tape remains dehydrated. Once pressed on the wet surfaces of various tissues, the tape quickly absorbs the water, allowing the other parts of the polymers to form strong adhesion contact with the surfaces in seconds. In addition, the hydrated tape becomes as stretchable as the living tissues, indicating that the tape could be used without affecting the natural stretchability and movements of body parts, such as the skin or the heart. As a demonstration of its sealing capability, the tape has been successfully used to seal an air-leaking lung, a fluid-leaking stomach, and a beating pig heart with a cut.
This work presents a tissue adhesive breakthrough that could treat fatal wounds in seconds. For example, penetrating wounds to the heart is particularly difficult and risky to treat with traditional sutures. Therefore, replacing them with this magical tape could not only make the surgeries easier and faster, but also eliminate a huge source of risk.
Managing Correspondent: Anqi Zhang
Original journal article: Dry double-sided tape for adhesion of wet tissues and devices. Nature.
Image Credit: Zhao Group, MIT