Engineering a highly elastic human protein–based sealant for surgical applications
Surgical sealants have been used for sealing or reconnecting ruptured tissues but often have low adhesion, inappropriate mechanical strength, cytotoxicity concerns, and poor performance in biological environments. To address these challenges, we engineered a biocompatible and highly elastic hydrogel sealant with tunable adhesion properties by photocrosslinking the recombinant human protein tropoelastin. The subcutaneous implantation of the methacryloyl-substituted tropoelastin (MeTro) sealant in rodents demonstrated low toxicity and controlled degradation. All animals survived surgical procedures with adequate blood circulation by using MeTro in an incisional model of artery sealing in rats, and animals showed normal breathing and lung function in a model of surgically induced rat lung leakage. In vivo experiments in a porcine model demonstrated complete sealing of severely leaking lung tissue in the absence of sutures or staples, with no clinical or sonographic signs of pneumothorax during 14 days of follow-up. The engineered MeTro sealant has high potential for clinical applications because of superior adhesion and mechanical properties compared to commercially available sealants, as well as opportunity for further optimization of the degradation rate to fit desired surgical applications on different tissues.