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Waterproof Glue Sealing Holes in People’s Hearts

Kimberly Love

Take a sticky substance from a slug, make some glue and suddenly you have a life saving technology that can save a life? Hard to believe? Well believe it. Researchers in the U.S have developed glue from the slime of such creatures and are using it to replace sutures and securing beating hearts permanently.

In a recent issue of Science Translational Medicine, researchers from Boston Children’s Hospital discussed what they have done to come across such a breakthrough. The plan is to help children who are born with heart defects such as a hole in the heart. The procedures used these days are invasive and it makes it hard to secure the devices inside the heart.

Dr. Jeffrey Karp, one of the doctors involved in the study has said, “About 40,000 babies are born with congenital heart defects in the United States annually, and those that require treatment are plagued with multiple surgeries to deliver or replace non-degradable implants that do not grow with young patients.”

The tests were first conducted on pig hearts and found that the adhesive can attach biodegradable patches inside the heart. The remarkable procedure places the patches right where the holes occur. When they were determining the best adhesive to use they determined they would need secretions from creatures that were water-repellant so they would not be disrupted under wet circumstances.

The adhesive that they use is applied with the use of UV light. The patches and adhesive work well together even under conditions where there may be an increase in blood pressure or heart rates. Even the presence of blood is no match for the adhesive and is strong enough to hold tissue together. The patches are biodegradable so there are no worries of things being left behind in a patients body.

The best thing about the adhesive is that it allows surgeons to use a simple technology to reconstruct tissue.
“It should provide the physician with a completely new, much simpler technology and a new paradigm for tissue reconstruction to improve the quality of life of patients following surgical procedures.”

A company called Gecko Biomedical located in Paris holds the license to the new adhesive technology. They hope to have the product on open market within 2-3 years.

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