Organisms produce various kinds of structural polymers. On a molecular level, most are comprised of strands that form extensive cross-linked networks amongst themselves to optimize physical properties. This model is shared by all organisms from bacteria to animals and countless different iterations have evolved to meet specific physical and chemical requirements. Scientists at Protein Polymer Technologies Inc. are testing a new type of surgical adhesive that mimics cross-linked structural proteins made by many organisms. The treatment is a binary mixture that, when combined, produces a quick setting, adhesive hydrogel capable of sealing a wound. It is protein-based so it integrates well with tissue but also is impermeable to gasses and liquids. The binary mixture is comprised of one agent containing elastin protein polymer units and one containing a proprietary, biocompatible cross-linking agent. The action of the cross-linking agent on the polymer creates a strong yet elastic biopoymer matrix not unlike many found in natural tissues. This bioinspired design holds the potential to replace inferior surgical adhesives. In some cases, it may also be useful for the replacement of sutures, staples, pins, or screws.
Some of the most widely used surgical adhesives are derived from human or animal blood products. PPTI's surgical tissue sealant does not rely on these sources.
Sutures, staples, and other types of wound closure treatment are not appropriate for all types of tissue including vasculature and many organs. Surgical adhesives have been developed but have not been widely adopted because of deficiencies related to strength, elasticity, setting time, reabsorbtion rate, toxicity, or source material. Bioinspired cross-linking proteins may be superior in all of these respects.Edit Summary