According to a recent MIT News article, their engineers have developed "smart sutures" that not only hold tissue in place but also detect inflammation and release drugs. The sutures are made from animal tissue coated with hydrogels that can be embedded with sensors, drugs, or cells that release therapeutic molecules. The team believes their sutures will be particularly useful for patients with Crohn's disease who undergo surgery to remove part of the intestine.
The researchers tested the tensile strength of the sutures and found it comparable to commercially available catgut sutures that induce less of an immune response. The sutures are then coated with a layer of hydrogel that can carry microparticles for sensing inflammation, drugs such as dexamethasone and adalimumab for treating inflammatory bowel disease, or therapeutic cells like stem cells.