A new glue made of human blood by-products could replace stitches and surgical staples in some delicate operations and be used like a caulking agent on leaky blood vessels, University of Pennsylvania researchers say.
Dr. Robert Weisman said he and colleagues have worked on developing such a glue for seven years. The substance is made from clotting agents derived from the patient's own blood.
"There are operations where it's just too difficult to use sutures or wires," he said. "You need an adhesive that is not traumatic. Glue is a natural answer."
Weisman said the glue, which is thick and white, is used just like household glue. It is applied to tissue and bone with a fine needle, he said. "Healthy tissue grows around it and the glue itself eventually dissolves. We believe, although we have no proof, the glue actually helps the healing process."
Weisman said the new glue has been successfully used in a dozen ear operations at the university's hospital, but said researchers have not yet applied to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for permission to market the substance.
Blood-derived glues are already used in several European countries, but these products have not been approved for use in the United States because they are made from blood pooled by numerous donors.
"The risk of infection, of having that many donors, has always been thought to be too high," Weisman said. "We went ahead and came up with a process that makes a similar product, but from blood donated by the patient so it is safe."
The glue takes about five days to make from less than a pint of blood donated by the patient before elective surgery, he said.