Amazing what you can make out of lab equipment and party gear (Image: E. Roche/Harvard University)
Need to fix a hole in someone’swithout opening up their chest? It might sound like something put together by the A-Team, but you could do it with a contraption made from two balloons, a flexible mirror, a fibre-optic cable and a special repair patch pre-coated with light-activated glue.
at Harvard University and her colleagues developed the elaborate tool for delivering glue to internal organs through keyhole incisions, making it possible to repair tissue defects with minimal trauma.
It uses a. The glue rapidly solidifies after exposure to ultraviolet light. And the adhesive can hold biodegradable patches in place to repair tissue damage in rats and pigs.
The device places the patch onto the wound, then uses two balloons to apply pressure and keep it in place. Finally, a fibre-optic cable shines UV light onto a cone that reflects it over the patch, hardening the glue. The glue and the patch are both gradually absorbed into the body as the tissue heals.
Hole in the heart
The team has demonstrated the technique for repairing wounds in the stomach, abdominal wall and heart of rodents and pigs. In a live pig, the researchers used it to close a hole between the left and right ventricles of the heart as it was beating.
It doesn’t have to be this way (Image: Jean-Sebastien Evrard/AFP/Getty)
This type of defect is usually repaired in open-heart surgery, requiring the patient to havewhile they undergo a heart and lung bypass. Some patients can have the defect repaired through a small incision via a catheter, but the devices that repair the hole are metallic and stay in the body. They can sometimes erode the tissue or interfere with the conduction of electrical signals in the heart.
Patches that let tissue grow over them then degrade would have considerable advantages, says Roche. The patch can be cut to any size, is elastic, and moves with the tissue, causing less trauma. “It may open up the range of patients who can receive this kind of therapy,” she says.
The team plans to study how long wounds take to heal so they can tune the degradation rate of the patch.
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