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Light-Activated Heart Glue

January 14, 2014

A light-activated glue could improve heart surgery.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

A new way to mend a broken heart. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

The application of glue to a vessel defect. (Image courtesy of Randall McKenzie/McKenzie Illustrations)

The application of glue to a vessel defect. (Image courtesy of Randall McKenzie/McKenzie Illustrations)

A light-activated glue may be able to seamlessly repair holes in a beating heart. The development team includes bioengineer Jeffrey Karp of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He says the glue hardens almost instantly under UV light, which gives the surgeon an unprecedented level of control. In one experiment, they fixed a pig heart by applying the glue on a biodegradable patch.

JEFF KARP (Harvard Medical School/Brigham and Women’s Hospital):

With just five seconds of light, we were able to secure the patch in place, and then we could increase the heart rate with adrenaline and the patch remained attached.

HIRSHON:
The glue also has other desirable qualities: it’s water repellent, so it’s not easily washed away, and it’s also biodegradable, so it doesn’t have to be removed later. Baldwin’s team is contracting with a startup company to manufacture the glue on a large scale and pave the way for human trials.   I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.