"Although a cornea transplant is a routine outpatient procedure, we need to do everything we can to avoid such a transplant," Littlechild said. "These patients are in pain, out of work and can't see for a few days afterward. If we can decrease the need for transplants by using a glue, then we won't impede lives as much and protect patients from having future surgeries."
In the first study, Littlechild tested the glue using corneas removed from dogfish sharks and rabbits to measure adhesive strength.
She discovered that using glue made from ﬁbrinogen and riboﬂavin and then binding proteins and glue together using ultraviolet light -- the type used in tanning salons -- provided the best adhesion to keep the cornea's flap in place. The substance is a nontoxic biodegradable glue that is used in cataract surgery and does not leave a cloudy scar.
"The idea is that if you use the glue, you'll either reduce or alleviate the risk associated with LASIK surgery," Littlechild said. "The hope is that you would never have to worry about needing a transplant later."
In a second study, Littlechild analyzed specific molecular interactions that are responsible for the adhesion. She found that both covalent and zinc-mediated non-covalent mechanisms contributed to the adhesion.
The finding could prompt further development of the glue and could reveal alternative uses throughout the body, Littlechild said. The glue has the potential to bond other body tissues that are similar in chemical and molecular composition to the cornea.
For instance, tendon tissue that connects muscle to bone is similar to the cornea. Tendon tissue often heals slowly because it does not have many blood vessels; likewise, the cornea does not have any blood vesse
|Contact: Gary Conrad|
Kansas State University