August 31, 2010

Weill Cornell Medical College Develops Post-Operation Wound Treatment

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After more than 20 years of industry-wide trial and error, Cornell biomedical engineers and plastic surgeons from Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City have developed a sugar-based compound that may help bind post-operative wounds. The sticky compound, which is found in sunless tanning spray, consists of polyethylene glycol and a polycarbonate of dihydroxyacetone (MPEG-pDHA). Prof. David Putnam, biomedical engineering, was the senior author of the study. While the gel has only been tested on rats, a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that DHA may help close gaps following tissue removal in cancer-related procedures.“You can think of it as a tissue glue,” Dr. Jason Spector said. Spector co-authored the study with Putnam. “There are a lot of of tissue glues available that we as surgeon’s use, but there are a lot of problems with them. This is a polymer based upon a molecule that exists naturally in the body.” Major operations often leave seromas, hollow pockets in the body that fill with serous fluid, requiring drainage and temporary implants, according to Weill Cornell Medical College. Most current bio-glues used to prevent this fluid build-up, though, are animal-based and take a long time to break down. This increases the risk of infection and residual side effects as compounds linger within the body. DHA, however, is water soluble, naturally-produced in the body when it metabolizes glucose — a sugar used for fuel in the body — and biodegrades effectively. Putnam and his colleagues manipulated the DHA molecule into larger polymers until it was ready for testing. The compound was then easily injected through a syringe onto amines within the body, forming strong ties that repelled the serous fluid.  Awards from the National Science Foundation, Morgan Tissue Engineering Fund, Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, and the New York State Center for Advanced Technology all supported the research.According to Spector, the glue is “safer and potentially cheaper.” The next step requires testing on humans, a necessity which requires multiple regulatory obstacles, Spector said. He estimates that it may be several years before the glue is available to surgeons nationwide.

Original Author: Dan Robbins