The problem with the method is that available commercial hydrogels do not stop when the patient is moving. Doctors need to use membranes to hold them in place, and these membranes must be sewn on the tissue that the hydrogel is to heal. However, the EPFL researchers material is natural in a soft matter.
The new hydrogel (which is 90 percent water and consists of a double mesh matrix and a fiber mesh) actually clings even more when compressed or stretched. Dominique Pioletti, one of the team leaders, explained that it is because “the dual network structure distributes incoming mechanical energy throughout the” hydrogel. If you load the material with repair cells or drugs, it may heal broken cartilage without having to hurt them with sutures.
“Our hydrogel is ten times more self-adhesive than currently available bio-adhesives on the market. Due to its high water content, our hydrogel is very similar to the natural tissue for which it is intended to heal.”
The researchers have already shown that the hydrogel can stick to several types of tissues. Coming forward, they plan to load it with different agents commonly used for processing and tailoring it to specific applications.