The gel is injected directly into the tissue.
Credit: Alain Herzog 2021 EPFL
EPFL scientists have developed an injectable gel that can attach to various kinds of soft internal tissues and repair tears resulting from an accident or trauma.
Our soft tissues can be torn during a ski accident, a car accident or an accident in the home, for example. And surgeons can have a hard time binding the tissue back together, as stitches often do more harm than good. According to Dominique Pioletti, the head of the Laboratory of Biomechanical Orthopedics at EPFL’s School of Engineering, such surgeries don’t always produce optimal outcomes because the repaired tissue usually doesn’t heal properly. This tends to be the case for tears in cartilage and the cornea, for instance.
Researchers around the world have been trying for years to develop an adhesive for soft tissue that can withstand the natural stresses and strains within the human body. Pioletti’s group has now come up with a novel family of injectable biomaterials that can bind to various forms of soft tissue. Their bioadhesives, in the form of a gel, can be used in a variety of injury-treatment applications. Their research has just been published in Macromolecular Rapid Communications.
Sticks like glue
The hydrogel produced at LBO is made up of 85% water and has two key advantages: it can be injected anywhere in the human body, and it demonstrates high intrinsic adhesion with no extra surface treatment. “What makes our hydrogel different is that it changes consistency while providing high adhesion to soft tissues,” says Peyman Karami, a postdoc at Pioletti’s lab who has developed the gel during his PhD. “It’s injected in a liquid form, but then sets when a light source is applied, enabling it to adhere to surrounding tissue.”
The scientists’ hydrogel works through an entirely new design that allows for independent control of its mechanical and adhesive properties. The result is a versatile hydrogel that doctors can use as a glue for soft tissue throughout the human body.
Inspired by mussels
To obtain these versatile properties in their hydrogel, the scientists took the base polymer and modified it with the compounds that play an important role in tissue adhesion. The first is known as Dopa and is derived from mussels. “Dopa is what lets mussels attach firmly to any kind of surface – organic or otherwise,” says Pioletti. The second is an amino acid that our bodies make naturally.
Original Article: New hydrogel can repair tears in human tissue
More from: Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne
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