The need for surgical sutures, along with the time-consuming and sensitive side effects that come with it, could be a thing of the past, as engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have designed a double-sided tape that can take the place of traditional methods.

MIT engineers say they were inspired by the sticky substance that spiders use to trap prey, and the double-sided tape concept that they created can rapidly seal tissues together – even ones that are traditionally difficult to do with surgical sutures and can lead to complications.

“There are over 230 million major surgeries all around the world per year, and many of them require sutures to close the wound, which can actually cause stress on the tissues and can cause infections, pain, and scars. We are proposing a fundamentally different approach to sealing tissue,” says Xuanhe Zhao, senior author of the study and an associate engineering professor at MIT.
The tape was tested on pigs and rats, and found to be effective on skin, along with tissue in the lungs, stomach, liver, and small intestine.

Researchers touted the tape’s ability to seal a wound in a matter of seconds, which is much more effective than the minutes it takes for tissue glue to take hold, and even that substance can cause problems if it leaks into other parts of the body.

Tape May Also Be Able to Keep Implanted Devices in Place

The research team is still exploring the possibility that the tape can be used to keep medical devices in place. A polyurethane heart patch was tested successfully on a rat, while silicone rubber, titanium, and hydrogels were also attached to various tissue with the tape.

The team is now working with doctors to identify more uses for the tape and to perform more tests in animal models.