CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — A new double-sided tape inspired by spiders' webs could one day replace sutures in medical surgery.
The adhesive, which can bind wet surfaces such as soft tissue within five seconds, was created at MIT.
Xuanhe Zhao, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at MIT, said the project was inspired by nature—by spider webs, and other animals' natural adhesive glues.
"The challenge for inventing such a bioadhesive to work with white tissues is how to adhere surfaces covered by water," Zhao. "Spider webs absorb the surface water and then form adhesion with insects, so that you can have this surface contact after absorbing the water."
Zhao says there are over 230 million major surgeries in the world each year, most of which require sutures.
"Suturing can cause scars, can cause pain, can cause infection," he said. "Many times, sutured internal organs leak, which is a fatal scenario, so there is a strong motivation to find an adhesive that can seal those wounds."
So how could the tapework in the operating room?
"Imagine there's a wound in the body," Zhao said. "We will just stick the wound together by using this bioadhesive tape. At the time of contact of this bioadhesive tape with the white tissue, the tape will absorb water."
Zhao said the tape becomes a layer of hydrogel—very soft and stretchable—after absorbing water, and then dissolves inside the body once the wound heals.
"The applications can be very broad," Zhao said. "All the way from healing the wound on the skin, to sealing lungs, trachea after surgery—those potentially air-leaking wounds inside the body—all the way to G.I. tract surgery."
MIT said the adhesive can also be used to attach medical devices inside the body, and work faster than tissue glues that could also drip to unwanted places.
Researchers at MIT are now working on pre-clinical trials on many of those scenarios Zhao mentioned.
WBZ NewsRadio's Ben Parker (@radiobenparker) reports