Scientists at the University of Sydney have developed a highly elastic and adhesive surgical glue that quickly seals wounds instead of the use of staples or sutures. This could transform emergency treatments by sealing critical wounds.

The gel is based on methacryloyl-substituted tropoelastin (MeTro for short), a hybrid elastic protein, and can be applied to wounds to seal them up. Trials are currently limited to animal models but human trials are coming soon and the results so far are very promising.

“The beauty of the MeTro formulation is that, as soon as it comes in contact with tissue surfaces, it solidifies into a gel-like phase without running away,” says Nasim Annabi from Northeastern University, in Boston.

“We then further stabilise it by curing it on-site with a short light-mediated crosslinking treatment. This allows the sealant to be very accurately placed and to tightly bond and interlock with structures on the tissue surface.”

Wounds treated with this gel can heal up in half the time compared to stitches and staples. Thanks to a degrading enzyme in the glue, it can be set to last for a specified amount of time depending on the types of injuries. 

“When you watch MeTro, you can see it act like a liquid, filling the gaps and conforming to the shape of the wound,” says one Anthony Weiss from the University of Sydney in Australia.

“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 scientists behind the gel report that it’s simple to apply, can be easily stored, and works closely with natural tissue to heal a wound. What’s more, it degrades without leaving any kind of toxic leftovers in the body.

“We have shown MeTro works in a range of different settings and solves problems other available sealants can’t,” says Weiss. “We’re now ready to transfer our research into testing on people. I hope MeTro will soon be used in the clinic, saving human lives.”