Interdisciplinary Initiatives Program Round 3 – 2006

Gerald Fuller, Chemical Engineering
Geoffrey Gurtner, Surgery

The Bio-X program was designed to stimulate intellectual interactions between those in engineering, basic science, and medicine to develop technologies for global improvement. Our proposal is a collaborative project which will develop a completely new method of restoring circulation to a failing heart, starving muscles or a transplanted liver or kidney. Currently, these operations are exceedingly difficult and time consuming, and require restoration of the blood vessels with stitches. By using a novel bioengineered gel and glue, the operation could be performed much more efficiently with better results. The gel will be injected in a liquid form, warmed to convert it to a solid, and the ends of the blood vessels reconnected by glue. The gel would then liquefy at body temperature and be flushed away and dissolve in blood. While we have already demonstrated that this approach is technically feasible, there are a number of issues that need to be resolved regarding the exact chemical properties of the gel and glue, potential side effects, long term outcomes of the reconnected blood vessels, and how they compare to the traditional “needle and thread” methods. The intent of this study is nothing less than a re-working of a century-old paradigm and establishment of new, more efficient, and ultimately life saving technique of vascular anastomosis. This approach has the potential to revolutionize vascular surgery and facilitate entirely new life saving procedures not previously possible.