March 19, 2009

New medical adhesive might replace sutures

U.S. scientists say they have devised a method of making medical adhesives that might replace sutures and result in less post-surgical scarring.

Using the natural glue that marine mussels use to stick to rocks, along with a variation on the inkjet printer, the researchers led by North Carolina State University say the technology might also result in faster recovery times and increased precision for exacting operations such as eye surgery.

Traditionally, there have been two ways to join tissue during surgical procedures: sutures and synthetic adhesives. But the new research shows adhesive proteins found in the glue produced by marine mussels might be an improvement over synthetic adhesives because they are non-toxic and biodegradable.

Associate Professor Roger Narayan, the study's co-author, said the new medical adhesives give surgeons greater control of the placement of adhesives. This helps ensure that the tissues are joined together in just the right spot, forming a better bond that leads to improved healing and less scarring, said Narayan.

The study, performed in collaboration with Professor Jon Wilker, is to be published in the April issue of the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research B.