Today’s Solutions: November 29, 2021

Band-aids are a great quick fix for kitchen mishaps, skinned knees, and paper cuts, but what if there was a band-aid for internal injuries? Researchers at MIT have developed a band-aid that not only works on internal surfaces, like organs, but it also comes off pain-free. 

The team began by developing a double-sided tape that could be used instead of sutures. Made out of a material called polyacrylic acid, embedded with chemical groups called NHS esters, the tape absorbs excess liquid from the surface it covers and forms hydrogen bonds to connect the tissues. The only problem lay in getting the tape off. Pulling this tape off of delicate internal structures could cause serious damage. 

For their second prototype, the team paired their design with a compound called glutathione which can dissolve the bonds and is also found naturally in the body. A bit of baking soda was also included to sever the hydrogen bonds of the bandage itself.

The dissolving agent is simply sprayed onto the band-aid to safely and painlessly remove it. In trials with pig organs, the band-aids could be easily dissolved no matter how long they had been attached. 

Initially, the tape is being designed for use as sutures and on organs, but the team hopes to soon develop a modified version to patch up hemorrhages and leaky intestines. The ability to easily “patch-up” internal damage without invasive sutures is a huge step for the future of surgery. Technology like this also has life-saving potential for critically injured patients or for treating the injured in areas with minimal access to medical resources.

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