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Surgical Glue to Mend Broken Hearts

Friday, January 10, 2014

By Katherine Bourzac 

Many infants born with heart defects have to undergo repeated surgeries as they grow. Replacing the sutures and staples used in surgery today with fast-acting, biodegradable glues could help make these cardiac procedures faster and safer. Researchers at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston have developed a surgical glue with promising properties: it doesn’t dissolve in blood, and it’s rubbery enough to hold a seal inside a beating heart.

The cardiac adhesive has been tested in mice and pigs and is being developed as a commercial product by French startup Gecko Biomedical. The Paris-based company, founded by biomaterials researchers in the Boston area, has $11 million in series-A funding, and the company plans to bring the surgical adhesive to patients in Europe in one to two years. The cardiac adhesive is described in a paper published today in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Sutures and staples have major drawbacks, says Jeffrey Karp, a biomaterials researcher at Brigham and Women’s and one of Gecko Biomedical’s founders. Staples, which work by piercing tissue, can cause damage, and putting in sutures is time consuming. Replacing these tools with rubbery, fast-acting adhesives could help make surgeries faster and less invasive, and potentially prevent complications. Read more...