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Innovative Gel Offers Revolutionary Treatment for Challenging Gastrointestinal Leaks

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 01 Dec 2023

Gastrointestinal leaks, medically referred to as enterocutaneous fistulas, are abnormal pathways between the gastrointestinal tract and the skin, often resulting from surgical complications. This condition leads to the leakage of intestinal and stomach contents through to the skin, posing severe health threats such as skin damage, heightened infection risk, and high mortality rates, estimated at 15-20%. The primary treatment for this involves extensive surgery, aiming to restore bowel function, excise the fistula, and reconnect the bowel ends, followed by securing the abdominal wall. This underscores the pressing need for less invasive treatment options for sealing and healing these gastrointestinal leaks.

In a significant breakthrough, researchers at the Terasaki Institute for Biomedical Innovation (Los Angeles, CA, USA) have created an innovative adhesive gel designed to address gastrointestinal leaks. This novel treatment represents a substantial leap forward in managing a condition that has long presented challenges to both patients and healthcare providers. The gel is formulated from a combination of synthetic nanoparticles and gelatin altered with dopamine, enabling it to solidify rapidly upon injection. This rapid solidification forms a durable, adhesive structure, effectively sealing off the fistula and preventing further health complications while promoting healing.


Image: The gel has been developed for sealing and healing challenging gastrointestinal tract-to-skin connections (Photo courtesy of Terasaki Institute)
Image: The gel has been developed for sealing and healing challenging gastrointestinal tract-to-skin connections (Photo courtesy of Terasaki Institute)

The gel's standout feature is its ability to be easily injected and quickly form a stable structure, which is key in facilitating tissue regeneration and harmonizing with adjacent tissues. This attribute is especially beneficial in medical scenarios where precision and less invasive methods are crucial. Moreover, the gel has exhibited exceptional biocompatibility in animal studies. It encourages cell growth and the deposition of vital proteins for new tissue formation, essential aspects of the healing process. Importantly, the gel accomplishes these healing steps without causing fibrotic tissue formation, often a challenge in tissue repair methods. This research holds promise not only for the direct treatment of gastrointestinal leaks but also for broader applications in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. The innovative approach and technologies developed through this research may pave the way for new therapeutic strategies across various medical fields.

Related Links:
Terasaki Institute 


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