For wound closure, conventional techniques such as staples, stitches, and clips are no longer used. Today surgical glues are being used instead of the aforementioned traditional methods of wound closure. The use of glues on wounds helps reduce the hospital stay time of patients as well as reduce the chances of any secondary damage or injury near or at the wound site.
A band-aid adhesive bandage is an effective way to stop bleeding from skin wounds, but an equally viable option for internal bleeding does not yet exist. Surgical glues are often used inside the body instead of traditional wound-closure techniques such as stitches, staples, and clips, because the glues reduce the patient’s time in the hospital and lower the risk of secondary injury or damage at the wound site. However, for an effective surgical glue, it has to be nontoxic, strong, be able to allow movement, and be flexible. There is no adhesive in the market which possesses all these characteristics.
Therefore, researchers from Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University have come up with a new, strong hydrogel adhesive which has all these characteristics. Even in the presence of blood, the new adhesive can stick to the dynamically moving tissues. This adhesive is biocompatible. The hydrogel is a combination of alginate, which is a seaweed extract used for food thickening, and polyacrylamide, which is used in soft contact lenses. A molecular network is created after these weak polymers gets entangled with each other. This network is extremely resilient and tough for a hydrogel material and is in fact at par with the natural cartilage present in the body of humans.
On combining with an adhesive layer that comprises charged polymer molecules, the resulting hybrid material can bind to tissues much strongly than any other adhesive available. Also, the new material can stretch many times its original length and can also be attached to surfaces with wet tissues and ones which even have movement, such as the heart.