Researchers create an origami-like patch to repair internal injuries

Date:8 February 2021 Author: Kyro Mitchell

Researchers from MIT have created an ‘origami-inspired‘ biodegradable medical patch designed to be used by robotic surgeons that could provide an easy way to mend internal injuries with little to no impact on the rest of the body.

The biodegradable medical patches have been designed to be folded up around a robotic surgeon’s appendage tool to seal up any internal damage.

Bioadhesive patches have long been used in surgical operations, but they can often lead to their own medical issues. When the glue used in current biodegradable medical patches solidifies, it can stiffen over the softer underlying surface, creating an imperfect seal. Blood and other bodily fluids can also contaminate glues, preventing successful adhesion to the injured site. Glues can also wash away before an injury has fully healed, and, after application, they can also cause inflammation and scar tissue formation.

The patches developed by MIT solves these issues through an innovative three-layered patch. The middle layer is the main bioadhesive, made from a hydrogel material that is embedded with compounds called NHS esters. When in contact with a wet surface, the adhesive absorbs any surrounding water and becomes pliable and stretchy, molding to a tissue’s contours.

In terms of the two outer layers, the bottom layer of the patch is made from a material coated with silicone oil, which acts to temporarily lubricate the adhesive, preventing it from sticking to other surfaces as it travels through the body. When the adhesive reaches its destination and is pressed lightly against an injured tissue, the silicone oil is squeezed out, allowing the adhesive to bind to the tissue.

The adhesive’s top layer consists of an elastomer film embedded with zwitterionic polymers (a molecular chain with positive and negative ions) to act as a barrier against bacteria and other contaminants.

Once all of the layers are put together, the patch can be easily wrapped around robotic tools like a balloon catheter and a surgical stapler and then be inserted into the patient. During the testing phase of the biodegradable medical patch, researchers tested the patch on animal models of major airways and vessels, including the trachea, esophagus, aorta, and intestines. The researchers were able to stick the patch onto torn tissues and organs via robotic surgeons and found no signs of contamination on or near the patched-up site one month after its application.

Take a look at the patch below:

Picture: MIT News

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