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. To solve the problem, researchers from Montreal have developed innovative tough gel-coated sutures (TGS) inspired by the human tendon.
These next-generation sutures contain a slippery and tough gel coating, mimicking the structure of soft connective tissues. Examining TGS sutures, the researchers found that the non-friction surface of the gel alleviated the damage usually caused by traditional sutures.
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 rigid sutures rubbing against contact tissues, say researchers from McGill University and INRS énergie Matériaux Télécommunications Research Center.
Inspired by a tendon
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 sturdy and solid due to its dual network structure. It connects collagen fibers, while the elastin network strengthens them. “
Zhenwei Ma, PhD student and lead author of the study, McGill University
She was under the supervision of Assistant Professor Jianyu Li of 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.
Personalized wound treatment
“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 using an infrared image,” says Li of the Mechanical Engineering Department.
“The ability to locally monitor wounds and adjust treatment strategies for better healing is an exciting direction for research,” says Li, who is also a Canadian chair of biomaterials and musculoskeletal health research.
Ma, Z., and others. (2021) Bio-inspired solid gel coat for robust and versatile surface functionalization. Scientific progress. doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.abc3012.