In 2015, a research team developed a kind of electrically activated glue for the first time. The possible applications? Interesting, such as being able to glue objects in wet conditions, or even underwater.
Now that team proved that the material could be used to repair blood vessels from the inside.
Voltaglue, this is the name of the special glue, was first created by a team from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and has since been developed in collaboration with MIT.
Inspired by hydrogel
How many times have you heard of hydrogels in recent years? In here I write about it in profusion, it is a material that will give us a lot of satisfaction.
This glue is also inspired by the shape of a hydrogel: it contains carbon molecules known as carbenes, in turn grafted onto tree branch-shaped polymer molecules called dendrimers. When this glue (in the form of a gel) is subjected to an electrical charge, the carbenes are attracted to any nearby surfaces. The dendrimers, which are entrained along with the carbenes, attach themselves to those surfaces forming a bond.
The greater the charge, the stronger the bond becomes between the glue and the surface where it is applied.
In recent experiments, a small Voltaglue-coated patch was applied to the end of a flexible balloon catheter, then inserted into a pig's aorta.
Although the blood vessel had been removed from the animal, it was connected to a fake heart and was subjected to a continuous blood flow at a rate of 10ml per minute.
When the super glue patch reached a 3mm tear in the aorta, the balloon at the end of the catheter was inflated, pressing the patch against the hole. The electrical wires running the length of the catheter were then used to provide an electrical charge to the Voltaglue on the patch, causing it to solidify and harden.
Within three minutes the glue had completely sealed the patch over the hole.
The catheter was then withdrawn, leaving the patch in place. Even after 1.000 simulated heartbeats, he remained firmly attached.
That said, both the Voltaglue patch and glue are designed to biodegrade and be harmlessly absorbed by the body within a few weeks. Just long enough for the repaired blood vessel to have a chance to heal completely.
The technology has been patented and is now being marketed as an ePATCH electrically activated patch and CATRE wired catheter.