A biopolymer suture cleared last month by the FDA is made of materials that the human body produces naturally, so they can be safely absorbed once the wound is healed. They are also 30 percent stronger than sutures now used and very flexible, making them easier for surgeons to work with.
The sutures were developed by Tepha, Inc., a Cambridge company that hopes to use the same material to produce an array of absorbable medical devices, including stents, surgical meshes and possibly a heart valve scaffold, says Simon Williams, CEO of Tepha and a former MIT postdoctoral associate.
Williams said he envisions that the new sutures will be used for abdominal closures, which are prone to re-opening, and to stitch tendons and ligaments.
Developed using a method created at MIT, the absorbable sutures are the first made from material produced by genetically modified bacteria.
About 20 years ago, researchers in the laboratory of MIT biology professor Anthony Sinskey started swapping genes between different bacteria, hoping to achieve industrial production of desirable natural compounds synthesized by those bacteria.
The researchers focused their "biopolymer engineering" efforts on a group of genes that code for enzymes in a pathway that produces polyesters. Those polyesters can be broken down into metabolites naturally produced by humans, so they cause no harm when absorbed.
Once the genes were identified, they could be transferred into a strain of industrial E. coli that can produce large quantities of the strong, flexible polymer.
The FDA cleared the biopolymer sutures on Feb. 8, and Williams said Tepha plans to start marketing them soon, in partnership with another company.
"Not only is it technically and in an engineering sense a tremendous victory, but it's also a victory for society because this leads to new medical devices that can help people in new and novel ways," said Sinskey, who is one of the founders of Tepha and sits on its board of directors.
The new suture is the first of what the researchers hope will be many medical devices made from the natural polyesters.
"What we've found is that this one material seems to be finding a lot of use in different applications," because of its wide range of desirable properties, Williams said.Tepha is now working on developing other medical devices, such as surgical meshes, multifilament fibers and stents. Ultimately, the researchers hope to develop an artificial scaffold that could be used to grow heart valves after being implanted in a patient, which would spare children with heart valve defects from undergoing repeated surgeries.
Tests of the device in animals have shown promise.
"We've been able to show we can produce a valve scaffold that functions better and can grow with the animal," Williams said. "If the valve can grow with the patient, you don't need the repeated surgeries."
Tepha, founded six years ago, is a spinoff of Metabolix, a company the researchers founded in 1992 to market bioplastics and biopolymer packaging materials.
Other current and former MIT researchers who helped develop the recombinant DNA methods used to create the biopolymer are JoAnne Stubbe, Novartis Professor of Chemistry and professor of biology, former postdoctoral associate Oliver Peoples and the late Professor Emeritus Satoru Masamune.
Original work at MIT on this technique was funded by the National Institutes of Health.
Elizabeth Thomson | EurekAlert!
Manchester scientists tie the tightest knot ever achieved
13.01.2017 | University of Manchester
CWRU directly measures how perovskite solar films efficiently convert light to power
12.01.2017 | Case Western Reserve University
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.
The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...
UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration
"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...
Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.
Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
16.01.2017 | Information Technology
16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering