Glue Made of Human Protein Heals Wounds Faster and Better

Another bit of science fiction is coming to life as scientists develop a highly elastic and adhesive surgical glue, similar to the one Ryan Gosling used to seal his wound in Blade Runner 2049.


Another bit of science fiction is coming to life as scientists develop a highly elastic and adhesive surgical glue similar to the one Ryan Gosling used to seal his wound in Blade Runner 2049.

Surgeons use sutures, staples, and wires (sometimes in combination with adhesive substances) to facilitate healing of external and internal wounds. These methods, however, are not optimal, especially for reconnecting contracting tissues like those of lungs, arteries and the heart.

Sutures are also not ideal for preventing the leaking of liquids from incisions. In addition, piercing tissues to place sutures can further damage the surrounding wound area and can increase the risk for infection.

Currently available surgical glues are not strong enough to be used without sutures, and may cause problems related to toxicity and inflammation.

MeTro is a new adhesive material made of a modified human protein that promises to overcome the limitations of existing sealants. 

Once applied, MeTro is activated by UV light to provide strong and highly elastic connection between tissues, in seconds and without the need for sutures. Due to the ease of its application it can be used to seal internal wounds in difficult to reach places.

MeTro stops air and liquid leakages, which is important for surgeries like those of lungs, where the most common complication is air leakage.

Another advantage of MeTro is that its biodegradability can be adjusted via a built-in enzyme, providing the necessary time—from days to months—for damaged tissues to heal.

Anthony Weiss, professor at The University of Sydney and one of the authors of the paper, said for EurekAlert!:

"When you watch MeTro, you can see it act like a liquid, filling the gaps and conforming to the shape of the wound. It responds well biologically, and interfaces closely with human tissue to promote healing. The gel is easily stored and can be squirted directly onto a wound or cavity.

The potential applications are powerful - from treating serious internal wounds at emergency sites such as following car accidents and in war zones, as well as improving hospital surgeries."

The results from animal testing with MeTro were published this month in Science Translational Medicine

Clinical trials will follow and will focus on the longterm effects of the glue, assessing its complete degradation, its effect on tissue healing, and any consequential responses.

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Caplan & Horowitz/arXiv

Diagrams illustrating the different types of so-called nuclear pasta.

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