Scientists led by Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) developed a device that offers a quicker and less invasive way to seal tears and holes in blood vessel repairs, using an electrically activated glue patch applied via a minimally invasive balloon catheter.
The benefit of this device is to replace the need for open or keyhole surgery to patch up or stitch together internal blood vessel repairs and defects.
“The system that we developed is potentially the answer to the currently unmet medical need for a minimally-invasive technique to repair arteriovenous fistulas (an abnormal connection between an artery and a vein) or vascular leaks, without the need for open surgery. With Voltaglue and the catheter device, we open up the possibility of not having to make surgical incisions to patch something up inside – we can send a catheter-based device through to do the job,” Assoc Prof Steele said in a statement.
After inserting the catheter into an appropriate blood vessel, the glue patch – nicknamed ‘Voltaglue’ – can be guided through the body to where the tear is located and then activated using retractable electrodes to glue it shut in a few minutes, all without making a single surgical cut.
Patented by NTU and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) scientists, Voltaglue is a new type of adhesive that works in wet environments and hardens when a voltage is applied to it.
The catheter device that deploys Voltaglue is jointly developed by Associate Professor Terry Steele from the NTU School of Materials Science and Engineering, former NTU PhD student Dr Manisha Singh, now at MIT, and Associate Professor Ellen Roche from the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Institute for Medical Engineering and Science at MIT, USA.
The device is the first proof-of-concept application of Voltaglue in a medical setting since it was invented by Assoc Prof Steele in 2015.
The team showed in lab experiments on a pig’s heart that the Voltaglue patch can be safely and effectively administered in a variety of situations, including withstanding the high pulsatile pressure of blood in arteries like the aorta.
The device was used to close a 3mm defect in an explanted pig aorta connected to a mock heart under continuous flow of blood of 10ml per minute.
Drawing on their findings, the researchers foresee that the catheter device may someday be used to deliver patches to repair birth defects such as holes in the wall of the heart.