A spray-on gel to staunch bleeding during brain surgery has been developed by New Jersey Institute of Technology. Surgeons can spray the gel onto a surgical site, and the natural bio-polymer solutions in the gel will cohere and control bleeding in the patient within 30 seconds. The gel can shorten an intracranial surgery by 30-45 minutes. It will translate into less time for the patient's skull to be open and less anesthesia, reducing both the possibility of infection and morbidity. Shorter surgeries also reduce hospital costs: The new gel is expected to save hospitals more than US$3000-4000 per case. The hydrogel derives from two polysaccharides that are simultaneously mixed and sprayed onto a surgical site. Once the hydrogel is mixed, it forms an adhesive and cohesive material that gelates within 30 seconds. The hydrogel solutions are made from natural materials and do not contain and blood or tissue components. That makes them highly biocompatible. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke awarded a US$1.4 mln grant to Endomedix to support its research on the gel, technically classified as a medical device. Endomedix has been developing the gel, known as a surgical hemostat, since 2009. Its applied research phase has been successful – the company has two issued U.S. patents on the gel and will begin biocompatibility testing later this year. After the tests are finished, the firm will seek regulatory authorization to begin clinical studies.
Every year in the U.S. about 17,500 persons develop primary brain cancer. There are about 20,000 brain cancer surgeries each year. For most, even after surgery, prospects for a normal, healthy life remain grim as occurrence of relapses is common. Conventional post-surgery treatment of radiation and intravenous chemotherapy often prove unsuccessful. Drugs needed to fight the cancerous growth reach the brain in too-low concentrations to be effective. In addition, serious side effects associated with drug delivery, such as anemia and pulmonary fibrosis, have become common problem areas. A controlled drug-delivery system that can be implanted at the site of the removed tumor, has been developed. This will help some brain-cancer patients have a brighter future. Clinical tests have shown that polymer wafers impreg-nated with a cancer-fighting drug implanted after surgery can help prolong life. As the biodegradable wafers erode, they release the chemotherapeutic drug to prevent relapses. Moreover, drug delivery takes place over time without the adverse effects common to intravenous delivery. The novel system, called Gliadel®, consists of a biodegradable polyanhydride polymer matrix that incorporates a generic cancer-fighting drug, carmustine (BCNU). After removing the tumor, the surgeon simply places up to eight wafers into the cavity, then closes it. The wafers slowly degrade, releasing toxins directly to the cancerous tissue.