‘Glue’ produced by shellfish may replace surgical stitches

The new technology that will eliminate stitches could lead
to increased precision for exacting operations such as eye surgeries

Using the natural glue that marine mussels use to stick to rocks, and a slightly modified inkjet printer, a team of researchers from North Carolina State University in the US has devised a new way of making medical adhesives that could replace traditional sutures and result in faster healing, less scarring and increased precision for exacting operations such as eye surgery.

Sutures and synthetic adhesives have been in use for joining tissue together in the wake of a surgery.

Though sutures work well, they require enormous skill and longer operating times. Synthetic adhesives, though widely used, are the source of increasing concerns over their toxicological and environmental effects.

Since non-biodegradable synthetic medical adhesives do not break down in the body, they may lead to medical problems.

The new study shows that adhesive proteins found in the “glue” produced by marine mussels may be used in place of the synthetic adhesives without such concerns, as they are non-toxic and biodegradable.

Dr Roger Narayan, one of the authors of the study, says that the mussel proteins can be placed in solution and applied using inkjet technology to create customised medical adhesives, which may have a host of applications.

He thinks this approach may “significantly improve wound repair in eye surgery, wound closure and fracture fixation”.

“This is an improved way of joining tissues because the use of the inkjet technology gives you greater control over the placement of the adhesive. 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,” Narayan says.

The researcher adds that this increased control would be a boon for surgery that relies on extreme precision, such as eye repair.

A research article on this study will appear in the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research B.

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