Staples and sutures are currently used to seal soft tissues together in clinical practice, but researchers at Arizona State University have come up with an alternative technique that resembles welding. It may end up being used to seal tissues during surgeries and to treat wounds, and in many cases simply to enhance the effectiveness of staples and sutures. Moreover, because the seal can be more continuous, covering the entirety of an incision, it may help to prevent infections.
The approach relies on a laser to activate gold nanorods so that they heat up and begin to gently melt silk fibers nearby. The silk fibers interact with collagen in their vicinity and the two fuse together. Laser light is then withdrawn and the body’s tissues interlace with the silk fibers, creating a strong connection.
Currently, this has been tried with small skin wounds, but work is underway to make the technology applicable for more serious applications, including procedures involving internal organs. Since the internal characteristics of the body are a lot more harsh, the team is working on new formulations of their gold-silk mixture that will work there as well.
“The main thing is that the sealing has enough mechanical strength so that leaks and separations and infections don’t happen and the body’s natural healing processes have time to take over,” said Kaushal Rege, the lead Arizona State researcher of the new technology. “And can we deliver bioactive molecules to the site to facilitate that healing?”
Via: Arizona State…