Fetal surgeries using laparoscopic tools have proven to be effective at treating a number of difficult conditions that would otherwise lead to tragic results. A major difficulty with these surgeries is that the amniotic sac is penetrated in order to reach the fetus. The sac is extremely fragile and once the instruments are removed the remaining hole is difficult to seal. A tear could occur and quickly propagate, leading to a serious emergency.
Researchers at University of California, Berkeley have been working on developing an adhesive glue specifically for sealing the amniotic sac punctured during fetal surgeries. They have used knowledge obtained over the last few years on how mussels adhere to rocks, specifically which compounds can be used in an adhesive but also that are probably not toxic to the human body. The researchers identified the chemical dihydroxyphenylalanine within mussels that can be mixed with a polymer to create a liquid adhesive.
The mixture was tested on pieces of a cow’s pericardium, another fragile piece of anatomy that can be compared to the amniotic sac. The glue, delivered via a syringe, stuck to the tissues, solidified, and held them firmly together.
During actual surgeries the team proposes to use the glue right after the initial puncture is made in order to solidify the hole and prevent it from tearing any further, adding additional adhesive after the procedure is complete to close things up.
Here’s a presentation about the new glue at the National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society: