Researchers are developing a gel that not only closes wounds but can help heal them as well.

Closing a wound with a surgical procedure is an effective method of promoting the wound healing process and the most common methods involve the use of sutures or stapling the wound shut.

However, these methods may not prove to be successful until weeks later when it’s time to remove the stitches or staples. And even then, there may turn out to be leaks or drainage that requires further closing.

A special glue

But researchers at three universities (Northeastern University, Harvard Medical School and the University of Sydney) are working together to develop a wound glue that is derived from a human protein to encourage faster healing and can close a wound in as little as 60 seconds. The results were published in Science Translational Medicine.

According to News@Northeastern, the glue, which is applied like a gel, is called MeTro, a name derived from methacryloyl-substituted tropoelastin, a hybrid elastic protein. The modified gel is squirted on external and internal wounds and then illuminated by a UV light that kick-starts the healing process.

The gel has properties that make it stand apart from similar applications, according to lead researcher Nasim Annabi of Northeastern University. It is extremely adhesive and has an elasticity that makes it excellent for areas of the body that require flexibility. In addition, it has properties that can be adjusted so that it degrades at a preferred pace.

An added benefit

Finally, because the wound glue is made from human protein, it can promote the growth of new tissue.

“We observed that this isn’t just a sealant, it actually helps with tissue regeneration,” Annabi told News@Northeastern. “For example, after a heart attack, the glue could be applied on damaged heart muscle to assist in regrowth.

Annabi went on to add:

“A good surgical sealant needs to have a combination of characteristics: it needs to be elastic, adhesive, non-toxic and biocompatible. Most sealants on the market possess one or two of these characteristics, but not all of them. We set out to engineer a material that could have all of these properties.”

Tests of the wound sealant have previously shown it can safely be applied to skin but more tests are planned, including clinical trials on human patients. They said they hope to have the gel available for hospitals within three to five years.

Advanced Tissue is the nation’s leader in delivering specialized wound care supplies to patients, delivering to both homes and long-term care facilities.