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How “Smart” Sutures Revolutionize Drug Delivery and Surgical Healing

by Tech Desk
2 minutes read
How “Smart” Sutures Revolutionize Drug Delivery and Surgical Healing

Smart Sutures: The Future of Surgical Healing and Drug Delivery

A team of engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has developed “smart” sutures that have the potential to revolutionize surgical healing and drug delivery. Published in Matter, the study highlights how these advanced sutures could benefit Crohn’s disease patients undergoing surgery while also having applications in sensing inflammation, drug delivery, and therapies.

The Romans developed “catgut” sutures thousands of years ago made from the twisted intestines of herbivorous animals. Modern catgut sutures are made from purified collagen derived from cows, sheep or goats. However, MIT researchers aimed to improve upon these sutures by developing an absorbable suture that could detect inflammation and deliver drugs effectively.

Their goal was to develop an advanced suture that would improve the results of surgery for Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel condition. Patients with this condition often need surgery to remove part of their damaged intestine, which involves stitching the remaining two ends together. If these stitches fail, it can have devastating results for the patient.

The researchers developed new sutures from a cell-free material they call “De-gut,” made from treated and decellularized pig tissue. The detergents remove pig cells from the tissue, leaving behind De-gut material composed of collagen and other biomolecules that make up the extracellular matrix of tissue. This decreases the risk of causing inflammation when used in patients.

To give these advanced functions to their newly created sutures, they added a hydrogel coating capable of carrying various types of loads such as sensing inflammation, delivering drug molecules and transporting living cells.

The microparticles embedded in hydrogel can serve several purposes like detecting inflammation by coating them with peptides released in response to matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), enzymes associated with inflammation. For drug delivery purposes, they coated hydrogel with steroid drug dexamethasone and monoclonal antibody drug adalimumab, both used for inflammatory bowel disease. Microparticles made from FDA-approved polymers such as PLGA and PLA ensured that drugs were released at a controlled rate.

The smart sutures can also deliver cell therapies, including stem cells. The researchers embedded the sutures with stem cells labeled with a fluorescent marker. Studies in mice confirmed that these stem cells remained viable for at least seven days and were capable of producing growth factors.

It is supposed to be, “Decellularized tissues have been widely used in regenerative medicine with their excellent biofunctionality,” says Dr Jung Seung Lee, co-lead author of the article. “We now suggest a novel platform to perform detection and delivery using decellularized tissue, which will open up new applications for tissue-derived materials.”

The team is currently working to test these promising applications further and scale up the manufacturing process for the sutures. This approach has the potential to administer other types of drugs such as antibiotics or chemotherapy.

The finishing touch, smart sutures have enormous potential in revolutionizing surgical healing and drug delivery while reducing inflammation risk when used in patients. With further studies into its use in other regions of the body beyond gastrointestinal tracts, it could be an essential tool for modern medicine.

Reference: Lee JS, Kim H, Carroll G et al., A multifunctional decellularized intestinal suture platform. Matter 2023;0(0):doi:10.1016/j.matt.2023.04.015

This article is a reworking of a Press release issued by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The material has been edited in length and content.


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