Laser-activated bio-adhesive could replace traditional sutures

Scientists at the University of New South Wales (Kensington, Australia) have developed a laser-activated, chitosan-based, bio-adhesive polymer called SurgiLux. Based on a polymer derived from chitin, which is found in fungal cell walls or in exoskeletons of crustaceans and insects, SurgiLux forms low energy bonds between the polymer and the desired tissue when it absorbs light. The technology may soon replace traditional sutures in the clinic.

"Though sutures have a superior strength to SurgiLux, sutures are physically invasive and do not support tissue regeneration," explains L. John Foster, Ph.D., FSB, from the University of New South Wales. "SurgiLux is a thin film, so you do not end up with any physical invasion or further damage to the tissue, thus allowing more complete healing." This is beneficial when repairing delicate tissues like neurons or blood vessels.

The SurgiLux polymer can achieve a uniform seal when activated by a laser, and has antimicrobial properties attributable to the chitosan base. Together, these features prevent the wound from becoming infected and maintain a barrier between the tissue and its surroundings. A suture would require extensive bandaging to achieve the same results. The polymer is particularly useful for hard-to-operate tissues or organs, such as the eye.

"We are exploring ophthalmology as a venue for SurgiLux in human patients. SurgiLux can be readily applied to the eye during surgery, and can seal the cornea in place during keratoplasty when sutures cannot," explains Foster.

The work has been published in the Journal of Visualized Experiments; for more information, please visit www.jove.com/video/3527/a-chitosan-based-laser-activated-thin-film-surgical-adhesive-surgilux.

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