Super glue can be squirted onto internal wounds to treat patients in war zones or those involved in car accidents

Treating serious wounds following car accidents or in war zones could be made a lot easier thanks to a potentially life-saving surgical glue that can seal wounds within seconds.

MeTro, which has been developed by biomedical engineers from the University of Sydney and Northeastern University, can be squirted onto patients’ wounds, and works on areas that continually expand and relax – such as lungs, hearts and arteries – as well as on internal wounds that are often in hard-to-reach areas.

The glue sets in 60 seconds once treated with UV light, and the technology has a built-in degrading enzyme, which can be modified so that the sealant lasts anywhere from hours to months.

“The beauty of the MeTro formulation is that, as soon as it comes in contact with tissue surfaces, it solidifies into a gel-like phase without running away,” said assistant professor Nasim Annabi of Northeastern University.

“The potential applications are powerful – from treating serious internal wounds at emergency sites such as following car accidents and in war zones, as well as improving hospital surgeries,” added Professor Anthony Weiss from the University of Sydney.

So far, MeTro has quickly and successfully sealed incisions in the arteries and lungs of rodents and the lungs of pigs, without the need for sutures and staples.

The next step for the sealant is to begin clinical trials.

“MeTro seems to remain stable over the period that wounds need to heal in demanding mechanical conditions and later it degrades without any signs of toxicity; it checks off all the boxes of a highly versatile and efficient surgical sealant with potential also beyond pulmonary and vascular suture and staple-less applications,” said professor Ali Khademhosseini, who is the director of the Biomaterials Innovation Research Center at Harvard Medical School.

“We have shown MeTro works in a range of different settings and solves problems other available sealants can’t. We’re now ready to transfer our research into testing on people. I hope MeTro will soon be used in the clinic, saving human lives,” added Weiss.

Images and video courtesy of the University of Sydney

The process by which MeTro works has been said to resemble the silicone sealants used around bathroom and kitchen tiles.

“When you watch MeTro, you can see it act like a liquid, filling the gaps and conforming to the shape of the wound,” said Weiss.

“It responds well biologically, and interfaces closely with human tissue to promote healing. The gel is easily stored and can be squirted directly onto a wound or cavity.”

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