New Surgical Tape Serves as Internal Band-Aides

Researchers from MIT come up with something better than sutures.

Jul 7, 2020

Band-aides are really amazing. You can cover cuts with them to keep wounds safe and dry. Now researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge have come up with a new surgical tape that works like a band-aide but adheres to internal organs. The best part is that there is no ouch factor in pulling it off when it is no longer needed.

In 2019, researchers at the university came up with a double-sided tape made of polyacrylic acid, embedded with chemical groups called NHS esters that they hoped would patch-up organs and replace sutures according to New Atlas.

The tape worked when tested on animal organs but there was one problem. It stuck too well. While ripping off a band-aide hurts for a little while, ripping off the tape on delicate organs like a liver could cause a huge amount of damage.

So, the researchers went back to the drawing board and started exploring a way that the bandage could be safely removed. And it worked. The results of the new study were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

First, they had to find a new formula that would allow the glue like adhesive to be peeled off. The researchers settled on using glutathione to sever the bonds of the double-sided tape. They tested it in different concentrations on various organs of pigs including hearts, lungs, and intestines.

They found that no matter how long the adhesive had been on the organs, when they sprayed the glutathione solution on it, the adhesive peeled off in about five minutes.

“That’s about the time it takes for the solution to diffuse through the tape to the surface where the tape meets the tissue,” Xiaoyu Chen, who was the lead author of the study told New Atlas. “At that point, the solution converts this extremely sticky adhesive to just a layer of slippery gel that you can easily peel off.”

Now, the new adhesive tape can practically be used to replace sutures (stitches) and to attach implantable medical devices according to a press release from MIT.

“There are over 230 million major surgeries all around the world per year, and many of them require sutures to close the wound, which can actually cause stress on the tissues and can cause infections, pain, and scars. We are proposing a fundamentally different approach to sealing tissue,” Xuanhe Zhao, an associate professor of mechanical engineering and of civil and environmental engineering at MIT and the senior author of the earlier study said in the press release.

The researchers are now studying how the tape can be used in additional applications in animal tests. While it is a long way away from being used in real operations on people, there is hope that this method will be able to be used in place of sutures in many surgeries.

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BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.