Swiss people have figured out how to weld a wound with a laser

Swiss people have figured out how to weld a wound with a laser
Swiss people have figured out how to weld a wound with a laser

Oscar Cipolato and Inge Herrmann in the Empa laboratory in St. Gallen.empa

Researchers from Empa and ETH Zurich have developed a new method which involves welding human tissue.

Bruno Knellwolf / ch media

A needle and thread, a skilled doctor and time takes care of the rest. The technique of sewing human tissue dates back more than 5,000 years. But this manipulation does not always give satisfaction.

“In the case of very soft fabrics, the thread can cut the fabric and cause additional injury. And if the wound closure on the internal organs is not tight, leaky sutures can be a life-threatening problem.

The Empa research institute in St. Gallen.

Its researchers, accompanied by a team from ETH Zurich, have now found a way to weld a wound with a laser. However, the skin obviously remains more delicate than a piece of metal. This is why the team of Oscar Cipolato and Inge Herrmann imagined an intelligent wound closure system that can be controlled gently and effectively.

Nanoparticles for soldering

Scientists use metal and ceramic nanoparticles and use a nanothermometry process to control temperature. Solder – a paste of protein and gelatin – contains two types of nanoparticles that interact perfectly.

As the paste is irradiated with a laser, the titanium nitride particles convert the light into heat. The bismuth vanadate particles synthesized for this purpose, on the other hand, act as tiny fluorescent nanothermometers: this is why they emit light of specific wavelength depending on the temperature and thus enable extremely precise regulation in real time.

This method is therefore particularly suitable for use in minimally invasive surgery, because it requires no contact and determines temperature differences with very fine spatial resolution in superficial and deep wounds, writes Empa.

In laboratory tests, various tissue samples made it possible to dress wounds quickly, stably and biocompatibly, for example on organs such as the pancreas or liver. The union of particularly demanding pieces of tissue, such as those of the urethra, fallopian tube or intestine, also took place successfully and gently.

In a next step, the laser light Source used at the beginning could be replaced with softer infrared light. A process that brings welding technology a little closer to its application in a hospital environment.

(French adaptation: Valentine Zenker)

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