Shining a UV light on a special glue can repair heart wounds

A surgery in action

Glue could be used in place of stitches

Portra/Getty

Here comes a glue that can mend a broken heart. A new material can repair cuts in pig hearts without using any stitches, and it can be absorbed by the body over time.

Hongwei Ouyang at Zhejiang University in China and his colleagues used polymers and water to create a glue that mimics the composition of the viscous gel of proteins that help with wound repair in animals.

Once activated by UV light, the glue reacts with proteins in biological tissues to form tight chemical bonds, sticking to tissue surface tightly and sealing the wound.

The team tested the technique in four pigs. They punctured a hole in the left ventricle of each heart using a needle. Then the glue was applied to the wounds followed by a dose of UV light. In less than 30 seconds, the bleeding stopped.

After two weeks, the team dissected the pigs and found no leaks between the gel and their heart tissue, and very little inflammation at the wounds, says Ouyang.

“No current existing clinical products can stop operative heart bleeding so quick and efficiently,” says Ouyang.

The bonds are strong enough to withstand blood pressure twice the normal levels, meaning it won’t burst when the heart contracts and pumps out blood.

To test the gel’s biodegradability, the team injected the gel into rats underneath their skin. Only about 20 per cent of the glue remained after eight weeks and no adverse reaction was observed.

Journal reference: Nature Communications, DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-10004-7

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