Human tendons inspire drug-delivering sutures

Researchers have developed innovative tough sutures coated with gel inspired by the human tendon.

New sutures can deliver medication, prevent infections, and monitor wounds.

Sutures are used to close wounds and speed up the natural healing process, but they can also complicate matters by causing soft tissue damage with their stiff fibers.

Next-generation sutures contain a slippery yet tough gel shell, mimicking the structure of soft connective tissues. In testing tough gel-coated sutures (TGS), the researchers found that the friction-free surface of the gel alleviated the damage that traditional sutures typically cause.

Conventional sutures have been around for centuries and are used to hold wounds until the healing process is complete. But they are far from ideal for tissue repair. Coarse fibers can cut and damage already fragile tissues, leading to discomfort and complications after surgery.

Part of the problem lies in the mismatch of our soft tissues and the stiff sutures that rub against the contact tissues, the researchers say.

To solve the problem, the team developed a new technology that mimics tendon mechanics.

“Our design is inspired by the human body, the endothenon sheath, which is both solid and solid due to its dual network structure. It binds collagen fibers, while the elastin network strengthens it, ”says lead study author Zhenwei Ma, a doctoral student under the supervision of Jianyu Li, an assistant professor in mechanical engineering at McGill University.

The endothenone sheath not only creates a slippery surface to reduce friction with the surrounding tissues in the joints, but also provides the necessary materials to repair the tissue in the event of a tendon injury. In the same way, TGS sutures can be made to provide a personalized medication based on the patient’s needs, the researchers say.

“This technology provides a versatile tool for advanced wound management. We believe it could be used to deliver drugs, prevent infections or even monitor wounds by shooting near infrared light, ”says Li.

“The ability to locally monitor wounds and adjust treatment strategies for better healing is an exciting direction for research,” says Li, who is also chair of biomaterials and musculoskeletal health.

The research appears in Scientific progress.

Source: McGill University