Light-Activated Sutures for War Wounds
ARLINGTON, Va., Sept. 13 , 2010 — A new, light-activated nanosuture technology known as photochemical tissue bonding may soon facilitate more effective treatment of traumatic battlefield injuries sustained by Airmen.
Developed as a result of research managed by Air Force Research Laboratory and funded by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the new method for treating war wounds provides an alternative to conventional sutures, staples and glues in repairing skin wounds and reconnecting incisions and severed peripheral nerves, blood vessels, and tendons in the cornea.
A series of successful bench-level lab experiments, conducted by Dr. Irene Kochevar, a Harvard Medical School professor and Massachusetts General Hospital Wellman Center researcher, and Wellman Associate Professor Robert Redmond, prompted a pilot clinical study of the novel technology, which has thus far produced better healing and functional outcomes than traditional approaches and materials are able to provide.
The nanosuture bonding occurs when a special dye is first applied to damaged tissue and then exposed briefly to green light. As the dye absorbs the light, molecular bonding of proteins takes place on the tissue surfaces. The process, which eliminates the need for glues, proteins, or other substances that might stimulate an inflammatory response, forms an immediate, water-tight seal between the injured tissue surfaces, reducing near-term inflammation and promoting better scar formation down the road.
The AFRL-supported researchers plan to continue their evaluation and refinement of this important new medical technology. Focused most particularly on improving its in-theater effectiveness, the two are currently exploring an enhancement that yields a shorter treatment time but an even stronger bond (a challenge requiring their identification of the basic molecular mechanisms responsible for light-activated cross-linking).
For more information, visit: www.wpafb.af.mil
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