Surgery can be incredibly taxing on the individual going under the knife, but when the surgeon wraps up the procedure it doesn’t always mean the end of the patient’s medical woes. Recovery from such an operation can take a long, long time, and dealing with stitches and staples as they hold a wound shut can be a literal pain. A new surgical glue could dramatically change things, offering patients a more comfortable alternative to traditional surgical sealing options.

It’s called MeTro. It was developed by researchers from both Harvard Medical School and the University of Sydney, led by Nasim Annabi, an assistant professor of chemical engineering. The glue is made from a modified human protein that has been tweaked to respond to UV light, allowing the application and drying of the gel-like substance in just a minute.

Doctors have gotten better and better at minimizing the size of the incisions needed for various surgical procedures, helping to mitigate the pain of recovery and shorten healing time. MeTro addresses the other half of the equation, which is the fact that modern wound sealing techniques haven’t seen huge progress in some time.

Rather than sewing human skin together, MeTro offers an alternative, and it’s an option that is not only less invasive, but could actually provide a more sanitary seal than a suture. It could potentially be used on organs as well, and can be produced in such a way that its rate of degradation can be controlled. What’s more, its creators say that the glue actually aids in tissue regeneration, potentially speeding up healing and recovery while also being less of a hassle for doctors and patients.

If this sounds like an incredible win/win/win, it’s because, well, it is. Annabi’s research group will continue their testing of the MeTro glue before moving on to actual clinical trials, but it’s entirely possible that MeTro begins to replace traditional wound sealing techniques in some hospitals within five years.

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