The future of medicine in 2037

In the post below from 2016, we wrote of what we can expect for medicine 20 years into the future. We review and revise it anew here.

An important determinant of “where medicine will be” in 2035 is the set of dynamics and forces behind healthcare delivery systems, including primarily the payment method, especially regarding reimbursement. It is clear that some form of reform in healthcare will result in a consolidation of the infrastructure paying for and managing patient populations. The infrastructure is bloated and expensive, unnecessarily adding to costs that neither the federal government nor individuals can sustain. This is not to say that I predict movement to a single payer system — that is just one perceived solution to the problem. There are far too many costs in healthcare that offer no benefits in terms of quality; indeed, such costs are a true impediment to quality. Funds that go to infrastructure (insurance companies and other intermediaries) and the demands they put on healthcare delivery work directly against quality of care. So, in the U.S., whether the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) persists (most likely) or is replaced with a single payer system, state administered healthcare (exchanges) or some other as-yet-unidentified form, there will be change in how healthcare is delivered from a cost/management perspective.  -[Editor’s note: After multiple attempts by the GOP to “repeal and replace”, the strengths of Obamacare have outweighed its weaknesses in the minds of voters who have thus voiced their opinions to their representatives, many seeking reelection in 2018.]

From the clinical practice and technology side, there will be enormous changes to healthcare. Here are examples of what I see from tracking trends in clinical practice and medical technology development:

  • Cancer 5 year survival rates will, for many cancers, be well over 90%. Cancer will largely be transformed in most cases to chronic disease that can be effectively managed by surgery, immunology, chemotherapy and other interventions. Cancer and genomics, in particular, has been a lucrative study (see The Cancer Genome Atlas). Immunotherapy developments are also expected to be part of many oncology solutions. Cancer has been a tenacious foe, and remains one we will be fighting for a long time, but the fight will have changed from virtually incapacitating the patient to following protocols that keep cancer in check, if not cure/prevent it.
    [Editor’s note: Immunology has surged in a wide range of cancer-related research yielding new weapons to cure cancer or render it to routine clinical management.]
  • Diabetes Type 1 (juvenile onset) will be managed in most patients by an “artificial pancreas”, a closed loop glucometer and insulin pump that will self-regulate blood glucose levels. OR, stem cell or other cell therapies may well achieve success in restoring normal insulin production and glucose metabolism in Type 1 patients. The odds are better that a practical, affordable artificial pancreas will developed than stem or other cell therapy, but both technologies are moving aggressively and will gain dramatic successes within 20 years.

Developments in the field of the “artificial pancreas” have recently gathered considerable pace, such that, by 2035, type 1 blood glucose management may be no more onerous than a house thermostat due to the sophistication and ease-of-use made possible with the closed loop, biofeedback capabilities of the integrated glucometer, insulin pump and the algorithms that drive it, but that will not be the end of the development of better options for type 1 diabetics. Cell therapy for type 1 diabetes, which may be readily achieved by one or more of a wide variety of cellular approaches and product forms (including cell/device hybrids) may well have progressed by 2035 to become another viable alternative for type 1 diabetics. [Editor’s note: Our view of this stands, as artificial pancreases are maturing in development and reaching markets. Cell therapy still offers the most “cure-like” result, which is likely to happen within the next 20 years.]

  • Diabetes Type 2 (adult onset) will be a significant problem, governed as it is by different dynamics than Type 1. A large body of evidence will exist that shows dramatically reduced incidence of Type 2 associated with obesity management (gastric bypass, satiety drugs, etc.) that will mitigate the growing prevalence of Type 2, but research into pharmacologic or other therapies may at best achieve only modest advances. The problem will reside in the complexity of different Type 2 manifestation, the late onset of the condition in patients who are resistant to the necessary changes in lifestyle and the global epidemic that will challenge dissemination of new technologies and clinical practices to third world populations.

Despite increasing levels of attention being raised to the burden of type 2 worldwide, including all its sequellae (vascular, retinal, kidney and other diseases), the pace of growth globally in type 2 is still such that it will represent a problem and target for pharma, biotech, medical device, and other disciplines. [Editor’s note: the burden of Type 2 on people, families, communities, and governments globally should motivate policy, legislation, and other action, but global initiatives have a long way to travel.]

  • Cell therapy and tissue engineering will offer an enormous number of solutions for conditions currently treated inadequately, if at all. Below is an illustration of the range of applications currently available or in development, a list that will expand (along with successes in each) over the next 20 years.

    Cell therapy will have deeply penetrated virtually every medical specialty by 2035. Most advanced will be those that target less complex tissues: bone, muscle, skin, and select internal organ tissues (e.g., bioengineered bladder, others). However, development will have also followed the money. Currently, development and use of conventional technologies in areas like cardiology, vascular, and neurology entails high expenditure that creates enormous investment incentive that will drive steady development of cell therapy and tissue engineering over the next 20 years, with the goal of better, more long-term and/or less costly solutions.
  • Gene therapy will be an option for a majority of genetically-based diseases (especially inherited diseases) and will offer clinical options for non-inherited conditions. Advances in the analysis of inheritance and expression of genes will also enable advanced interventions to either ameliorate or actually preempt the onset of genetic disease.

    As the human genome is the engineering plans for the human body, it is a potential mother lode for the future of medicine, but it remains a complex set of plans to elucidate and exploit for the development of therapies. While genetically-based diseases may readily be addressed by gene therapies in 2035, the host of other diseases that do not have obvious genetic components will resist giving up easy gene therapy solutions. Then again, within 20 years a number of reasonable advances in understanding and intervention could open the gate to widespread “gene therapy” (in some sense) for a breadth of diseases and conditions. [Editor’s note: CRISPR and other gene-editing techniques have accelerated the pace at which practical and affordable gene-therapies will reach the market.]
  • Drug development will be dramatically more sophisticated, reducing the development time and cost while resulting in drugs that are far more clinically effective (and less prone to side effects). [Editor’s note: We are revising our optimism about drug development being more sophisticated and streamlined. To a measurable degree, “distributed processing systems” have proven far more exciting in principle than practice, since results — marketable drugs derived this way — have been scant. We remain optimistic as a result of the rapid emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning, which have have very credible promise to impact swaths of industry, especially in medicine.]
    This arises from drug candidates being evaluated via distributed processing systems (or quantum computer systems) that can predict efficacy and side effect without need of expensive and exhaustive animal or human testing.The development of effective drugs will have been accelerated by both modeling systems and increases in our understanding of disease and trauma, including pharmacogenomics to predict drug response. It may not as readily follow that the costs will be reduced, something that may only happen as a result of policy decisions.
  • Most surgical procedures will achieve the ability to be virtually non-invasive. Natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery (NOTES) will enable highly sophisticated surgery without ever making an abdominal or other (external) incision. Technologies like “gamma knife” and similar will have the ability to destroy tumors or ablate pathological tissue via completely external, energy-based systems. [Editor’s note: In the late 1980s, laparoscopy revolutionized surgery for its less invasiveness. Now, NOTES procedures and external energy technologies (e.g., gamma knife) have now proven to be about as minimally invasive as medical devices can be. To be even less invasive will require development of drugs (including biotechs) that succeed as therapeutic alternatives to any kind of surgery.]

    By 2035, technologies such as these will measurably reduce inpatient stays, on a per capita basis, since a significant reason for overnight stays is the trauma requiring recovery, and eliminating trauma is a major goal and advantage of minimally invasive technologies (e.g., especially the NOTES technology platform). A wide range of other technologies (e.g., gamma knife, minimally invasive surgery/intervention, etc.) across multiple categories (device, biotech, pharma) will also have emerged and succeeded in the market by producing therapeutic benefit while minimizing or eliminating collateral damage.
  • Information technology will radically improve patient management. Very sophisticated electronic patient records will dramatically improve patient care via reduction of contraindications, predictive systems to proactively manage disease and disease risk, and greatly improve the decision-making of physicians tasked with diagnosing and treating patients.There are few technical hurdles to the advancement of information technology in medicine, but even in 2035, infotech is very likely to still be facing real hurdles in its use as a result of the reluctance in healthcare to give up legacy systems and the inertia against change, despite the benefits. [Editor’s note: Before AI and other systems will truly have an impact, IT and its policy for healthcare in the next 10 years will solve the problem of health data residing inertly behind walls that hinder efficient use of the rich, patient-specific knowledge that physicians and healthcare systems might use to improve the quality and cost of care.]
  • Personalized medicine. Perfect matches between a condition and its treatment are the goal of personalized medicine, since patient-to-patient variation can reduce the efficacy of off-the-shelf treatment. The thinking behind gender-specific joint replacement has led to custom-printed 3D implants. The use of personalized medicine will also be manifested by testing to reveal potential emerging diseases or conditions, whose symptoms may be ameliorated or prevented by intervention before onset.
  • Systems biology will underlie the biology of most future medical advances in the next 20 years. Systems biology is a discipline focused on an integrated understanding of cell biology, physiology, genetics, chemistry, and a wide range of other individual medical and scientific disciplines. It represents an implicit recognition of an organism as an embodiment of multiple, interdependent organ systems and its processes, such that both pathology and wellness are understood from the perspective of the sum total of both the problem and the impact of possible solutions.This orientation will be intrinsic to the development of medical technologies, and will increasingly be represented by clinical trials that throw a much wider and longer-term net around relevant data, staff expertise encompassing more medical/scientific disciplines, and unforeseen solutions that present themselves as a result of this approach.Other technologies being developed aggressively now will have an impact over the next twenty years, including medical/surgical robots (or even biobots), neurotechnologies to diagnose, monitor, and treat a wide range of conditions (e.g., spinal cord injury, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s etc.).

The breadth and depth of advances in medicine over the next 20 years will be extraordinary, since many doors have been recently opened as a result of advances in genetics, cell biology, materials science, systems biology and others — with the collective advances further stimulating both learning and new product development. 


See Reports:

Report #290, “Worldwide Markets for Medical and Surgical Sealants, Glues, and Hemostats, 2015-2022.”

Report #S251, “Wound Management to 2024.”

Naturally sticky: Biologically-based medical glues dominate

Medical glues are either biologically-based, cyanoacrylate, or other synthetic. The bulk of global sales of medical glues are biologically-based, (includes fibrin, thrombogen, and others), cyanoacrylate-based glues, and other synthetic glues.

Cyanoacrylate-based glues, include those from Ethicon, Adhezion Biomedical, B. Braun, Meyer-Haake, and others. Cyanoacrylates provide strong adhesion, but biologically-based glues have found more applications, both topically and internally. “Other” glues are of a variety of synthetic types; these glues have yet to gain more than 4% share globally.

Below is illustrated the growth of biologically-based glues by region, showing that most growth in this segment will be from Asia/Pacific markets, which are consistently demonstrating higher growth than in western markets.

Global Markets for Biologically-Based Medical Glues, 2015-2022, USD MillionsSource: MedMarket Diligence, LLC; Report #S290. (Order online)

 

What’s next in sealants, glue, hemostats…and why?

From July 2016 published Report #S290.

Here are six key trends we see in the global market next in surgical sealants, glues, and hemostats:

  1. Aggressive development of products (including by universities, startups, established competitors), regulatory approvals, and new product introductions continues in the U.S., Europe, and Asia/Pacific (mostly Japan, Korea) to satisfy the growing volume of surgical procedures globally.
  2. Rapid adoption of sealants, glues, hemostats in China will drive much of the global market for these products, but other nations in the region are also big consumers, with more of the potential caseload already tapped than the rising economic China giant. Japan is a big developer and user of wound product consumer. Per capital demand is also higher in some countries like Japan.
  3. Flattening markets in the U.S. and Europe (where home-based manufacturers are looking more at emerging markets), with Europe in particular focused intently on lowering healthcare costs.
  4. The M&A, and deal-making that has taken place over the past few years (Bristol-Myers Squibb, The Medicines Company, Cohera Medical, Medafor, CR Bard, Tenaxis, Mallinckrodt, Xcede Technologies, etc.) will continue as market penetration turns to consolidation.
  5. Growing development on two fronts: (1) clinical specialty and/or application specific product formulation, and (2) all purpose products that provide faster sealing, hemostasis, or closure for general wound applications for internal and external use.
  6. Bioglues already hold the lead in global medical glue sales, and more are being developed, but there are also numerous biologically-inspired, though not -derived, glues in the starting blocks that will displace bioglue shares. Nanotech also has its tiny fingers in this pie, as well.

See Report #S290, “Worldwide Sealants, Glues, and Hemostats Markets, 2015-2022”.

Medtech fundings for May 2017

Medtech fundings for May 2017 came in at a total $579 million, led by the $76.5 million raised by Outset Medical, the $57.7 million funding by CVRx, the $49 million raised by Intrinsic Therapeutics, the $46 million by Magenta Therapeutics and the $45 million by Advanced Cardiac Therapeutics.

Below are the top funding for the month. The complete list of fundings are shown at link (refresh your browser for updates during the month).

Source: Compiled by MedMarket Diligence, LLC.

For a historical listing of medtech fundings by month since 2009, see link.

Medtech fundings for April 2017

Medtech fundings for April 2017 stand at $524 million, led by the $120 million credit facility secured by Endologix, followed by $40 million raised by Cardiovascular Systems, $36 million by ALung Technologies, $32 million by Frequency Therapeutics, and $30 million by ProTom International.

Below are the top listings of medtech fundings for the month to date. For a complete listing of fundings to date, see link.

Source: Compiled by MedMarket Diligence, LLC

For a complete list of medtech fundings recorded since 2009, see link.

The global dynamics of cardiovascular surgical and interventional procedures

This is an excerpt from Report #C500, “Cardiovascular Procedures to 2022.”

Cardiovascular Procedures in 2016

• Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery;
 • Coronary angioplasty and stenting;
 • Lower extremity arterial bypass surgery;
  • Percutaneous transluminal angioplasty (PTA) with and without bare metal and drug-eluting stenting;
  • Peripheral drug-coated balloon angioplasty;
  • Peripheral atherectomy;
  • Surgical and endovascular aortic aneurysm repair;
  • Vena cava filter placement
  • Endovenous ablation;
  • Mechanical venous thrombectomy;
  • Venous angioplasty and stenting;
  • Carotid endarterectomy;
  • Carotid artery stenting;
  • Cerebral thrombectomy;
  • Cerebral aneurysm and AVM surgical clipping;
  • Cerebral aneurysm and AVM coiling & flow diversion;
  • Left Atrial Appendage closure;
  • Heart valve repair and replacement surgery;
  • Transcatheter valve repair and replacement;
  • Congenital heart defect repair;
  • Percutaneous and surgical placement of temporary and permanent mechanical cardiac support devices;
  • Pacemaker implantation;
  • Implantable cardioverter defibrillator placement;
  • Cardiac resynchronization therapy device placement;
  • Standard SVT & VT ablation; and
  • Transcatheter AFib ablation

In 2016, the cumulative worldwide volume of the most prevalent cardiac surgeries and other  cardiovascular procedures (at right) is projected to approach 15.05 million surgical and transcatheter interventions. This will include:

  • in coronart artery disease, roughly 4.73 million coronary revascularization procedures via coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) and percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) or about 31.4% of the total),
  • close to 4 million percutaneous and surgical peripheral artery revascularization procedures (or 26.5% of the total);
  • about 2.12 million cardiac rhythm management procedures via implantable pulse generator placement and arrhythmia ablation (or 14.1% of the total);
  • over 1.65 million  chronic venous insufficiency, deep vein thrombosis, and pulmonary embolism targeting venous interventions (representing 11.0% of the total);
  • more than 992 thousand surgical and transcatheter heart defect repairs and  valve replacement or valve repair  (or 6.6% of the total);
  • close to 931 thousand acute stroke prophylaxis and treatment procedures (contributing 6.2% of the total);
  • over 374 thousand abdominal and thoracic aortic aneurysm endovascular and surgical repairs (or 2.5% of the total); and
  • almost 254 thousand placements of temporary and permanent mechanical cardiac support devices in bridge to recovery, bridge to transplant, and destination therapy indications (accounting for about 1.7% of total procedure volume).

During the period 2016 to 2022, the total worldwide volume of covered cardiovascular procedures is forecast to expand on average by 3.7% per annum to over 18.73 million corresponding surgeries and transcatheter interventions in the year 2022. The largest absolute gains can be expected in peripheral arterial interventions (thanks to explosive expansion in utilization of drug-coated balloons in all market geographies), followed by coronary revascularization (supported by continued strong growth in Chinese and Indian PCI utilization) and endovascular venous interventions (driven by grossly underserved patient caseloads within the same Chinese and Indian market geography).

The latter (venous) indications are also expected to register the fastest (5.1%) relative procedural growth, followed by peripheral revascularization (with 4.0% average annual advances) and aortic aneurysm repair (projected to show a 3.6% average annual expansion).

http://mediligence.com/c500/

Geographically, Asian-Pacific (APAC) market geography accounts for slightly larger share of the global CVD procedure volume than the U.S. (29.5% vs 29,3% of the total), followed by the largest Western European states (with 23.9%) and ROW geographies (with 17.3%). Because of the faster growth in all covered categories of CVD procedures, the share of APAC can be expected to increase to 33.5% of the total by the year 2022, mostly at the expense of the U.S. and Western Europe.

However, in relative per capita terms, covered APAC territories (e.g., China and India) are continuing to lag far behind developed Western states in utilization rates of therapeutic CVD interventions with roughly 1.57 procedures per million of population performed in 2015 for APAC region versus about 13.4 and 12.3 CVD interventions done per million of population in the U.S. and largest Western European countries.


Report #C500: “Global Dynamics of Surgical and Interventional Cardiovascular Procedures, 2015-2022.” Request excerpts.

This report may be purchased for immediate download at link.

Market positions in sealants, glues, hemostats fluid in U.S., Europe, Asia/Pacific

Market shares for sales of sealants, glues, and hemostats vary considerably from region to region globally due to the significant variations in the local market demand, rate of adoption of specific manufacturers’ products, the regulatory climate, local economies, and other factors. Consequently, manufacturers with significant share of sales in the U.S. or Europe or Asia/Pacific may have considerably lower or higher shares in other regions.

In the U.S., Ethicon and Baxter have dominant positions in sales of surgical sealants. However, in Europe and Asia/Pacific, Baxter has substantially smaller position, particularly relative to competitors like Takeda Pharmaceuticals and The Medicines Company.

Source: Report #S290, MedMarket Diligence, LLC

In the market for hemostats, similarly, Ethicon and Baxter have dominant position in the U.S. market, but in Asia/Pacific and Europe, Baxter is subordinate to Takeda Pharmaceuticals, CryoLife, and others.

Source: Report #S290, MedMarket Diligence, LLC

In medical glues, CryoLife has risen to the fore with its BioGlue, such that it has a global leading position as well as specifically in the U.S., Europe, and Asia/Pacific.

Source: Report #S290, MedMarket Diligence, LLC

MedMarket Future: Developments in Growth Technologies

Proliferation of graphene applications

The nature of graphene’s structure and its resulting traits are responsible for a tremendous burst of research focused on applications.

  • Find cancer cells. Research at the University of Illinois at Chicago showed that interfacing brain cells on the surface of a graphene sheet allows the ability to differentiate a single hyperactive cancerous cell from a normal cell. This represents a noninvasive technique for the early detection of cancer.
  • Graphene sheets capture cells efficiently. In research similar to that U. Illinois, modification of the graphene sheet by mild heating enables annealing of specific targets/analytes on the sheet which then can be tested. This, too, offers noninvasive diagnostics.
  • Contact lens coated with graphene. While the value of the development is yet to be seen, researchers in Korea have learned that contact lenses coated with graphene are able to shield wearers’ eyes from electromagnetic radiation and dehydration.
  • Cheaply mass-producing graphene using soybeans. A real hurdle to graphene’s widespread use in a variety of applications is the cost to mass produce it, but Australia’s CSIRO has shown that an ambient air process to produce graphene from soybean oil, which is likely to accelerate graphenes’ development for commercial use.

Materials

Advanced materials development teams globally are spinning out new materials that have highly specialized features, with the ability to be manufactured under tight control.

  • 3D manufacturing leads to highly complex, bio-like materials. With applications across many industries using “any material that can be crushed into nanoparticles”, University of Washington research has demonstrated the ability to 3D engineer complex structures, including for use as biological scaffolds.
  • Hydrogels and woven fiber fabric. Hokkaido University researchers have produced woven polyampholyte (PA) gels reinforced with glass fiber. Materials made this way have the structural and dynamic features to make them amenable for use in artificial ligaments and tendons.
  • Sound-shaping metamaterial. Research teams at the Universities of Sussex and Bristol have developed acoustic metamaterials capable of creating shaped sound waves, a development that will have a potentially big impact on medical imaging.

Organ-on-a-chip

In vitro testing models that more accurately reflect biological systems for drug testing and development will facilitate clinical diagnostics and clinical research.

  • Stem cells derived neuronal networks grown on a chip. Scientists at the University of Bern have developed an in vitro stem cell-based bioassay grown on multi-electrode arrays capable of detecting the biological activity of Clostridium botulinum neurotoxins.
  • Used for mimicking heart’s biomechanical properties. At Vanderbilt University, scientists have developed an organ-on-a-chip configuration that mimics the heart’s biomechanical properties. This will enable drug testing to gauge impact on heart function.
  • Used for offering insights on premature aging, vascular disease. Brigham and Women’s Hospital has developed organ-on-a-chip model designed to study progeria (Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome), which primarily affects vascular cells, making this an affective method for the first time to simultaneously study vascular diseases and aging.

Untapped potential for sealants, glues, hemostats in wound caseloads and procedures

Today’s surgeon has a broad range of products from which to choose for closing and sealing wounds. These include sutures, stapling devices, vascular clips, ligatures, and thermal devices, as well as a wide range of topical hemostats, surgical sealants and glues.

However, surgeons still primarily use sutures for wound closure and securement—sutures are cheap, familiar and work most of the time. Now, in addition to reaching for a stapling device, the surgeon must frequently decide at what point to augment or replace the commonly used items in favor of other products, which product is best for what procedure or condition, how much to use, and ease of use in order to achieve optimal patient outcomes. Because of budget pressures, the surgeon must also consider price when selecting a product. Of course in the USA, the product must also be FDA-approved, although the surgeon still has the choice of using a product off-label.

In the areas of sealants, hemostats and glues, there is room for both improvement and additional products.  There are a number of products already on the market, but the fact is that there is no one product that meets all needs in all situations and procedures. There are few products that stand out from the rest, apart, perhaps, from DermaBond® and BioGlue®. There are unmet needs, and companies having the necessary technology, or which may acquire and further develop the technology, can enter this market and launch novel items. These products have yet to significantly tap the potential for wound management and medical/surgical procedures.

Note: Log10 scale; Chronic wounds includes pressure, venous/arterial and diabetic ulcers.

Source: MedMarket Diligence, LLC; Report #S290.

Sealants, Fibrin and Others

Numerous variants of fibrin sealant exist, including autologous products. “Other” sealants refers to thrombin, collagen & gelatin-based sealants.

Fibrin sealants are used in the US in a wide array of applications; they are used the most in orthopedic surgeries, where the penetration rate is thought to be 25-30%. Fibrin sealants can, however, be ineffective under wet surgical conditions. The penetration rate in other surgeries is estimated to be about 10-15%.

Fibrin-based sealants were originally made with bovine components. These components were judged to increase the risk of developing bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), so second-generation commercial fibrin sealants (CSF) avoided bovine-derived materials. The antifibrinolytic tranexamic acid (TXA) was used instead of bovine aprotinin. Later, the TXA was removed, again due to safety issues. Today, Ethicon’s (JNJ) Evicel is an example of this product, which Ethicon says is the only all human, aprotinin free, fibrin sealant indicated for general hemostasis. Market growth in the Sealants sector is driven by the need for improved biocompatibility and stronger sealing ability—in other words, meeting the still-unsatisfied needs of physician end-users.

High Strength Medical Glues

Similar to that of sealants, the current market penetration of glues in the US is about 25% of eligible surgeries. There are several strong points in favor of the use of medical glues: their use can significantly reduce healthcare costs, for example by reducing time in the surgical suite, reducing the risk of a bleed, which may mean a return trip to the OR, and general ease of use. Patients seem to prefer the glues over receiving sutures for external wound closure, as glues can provide a suture-free method of closing wounds. In addition, if glues are selected over sutures, the physician can avoid the need (and cost) of administering local anesthesia to the wound site.

Hemostats

Hemostats are normally used in surgical procedures only when conventional methics to stop bleeding are ineffective or impractical. The hemostat market offers opportunities as customers seek products that better meet their needs. Above and beyond having hemostatic agents that are effective and reliable, additional improvements that they wish to see in hemostat products include: laparoscopy-friendly; work regardless of whether the patient is on anticoagulants or not; easy to prepare and store, with a long shelf life; antimicrobial; transparent so that the surgeon continues to have a clear field of view; and non-toxic; i.e. preferably not made from human or animal materials.


Drawn from, “Worldwide Markets for Medical and Surgical Sealants, Glues, and Hemostats, 2015-2022:  Established and Emerging Products, Technologies and Markets in the Americas, Europe, Asia/Pacific and Rest of World.” Report #S290.

Add tick cement to the list of natural adhesives pursued for medical applications

In past posts, we have reported on multiple naturally-occurring substances or methods for strong adhesion that are being investigated for their potential to be exploited for medical or surgical adhesion. These include adhesives from remora, mussels, geckos, crab shells, barnacles, Australian burrowing frogs, spider webs, porcupine quills, sandcastle worms, etc.

Researchers from MedUni Vienna and Vienna University of Technology are now investigating 300 different ticks for the “cement” used by the parasites to attach to hosts. The goal is to study the composition of the natural tick “dowel” used by the mouthparts of ticks and determine how it might serve as a template for new tissue adhesives.

The Vienna research also notes other natural adhesives are similarly being investigated for medical and surgical use:

Other potential “adhesive donors” are sea cucumbers, which shoot sticky threads out of their sac; species of salamander, which secrete extremely fast-drying adhesive out of skin glands, if attacked; or insect larvae, which produce tentacles or crabs, which can remain firmly “stuck,” even under water.

The incentive for studying natural adhesives is that they have been driven by evolution to provide strong adhesion without toxicity in various wet or dry conditions that are challenging for existing synthetic or existing natural glues (e.g., fibrin glues, cyanoacrylates, etc.). Surgical glues currently in use have some limitation arising from lesser strength, ease of use, toxicity, and other shortcomings. New glues will gain wider adoption, capturing procedure volume used with sutures, clips and other closure methods, particularly in internal use, if they are stronger and/or provide tighter seals (without needing to be combined with sutures on the same incision/wound) and do not cause the toxicity that some high strength medical glues do (e.g., synthetics like cyanoacrylates; “super glues”). The biologically-derived glues (or the surfaces structures of gecko feet) avoid the toxicities of synthetics and have often proven to have very high tensile strength. (The fast-curing cement used by barnacles has been shown to have a remarkable tensile strength of 5,000 pounds per square inch.)

Edit: See also, Biomimetic Glue, based on shellfish natural adhesive.


MedMarket Diligence tracks the technologies, clinical practices, companies, and markets associated with medical and surgical sealants and glues, with the most recent coverage in, “Worldwide Markets for Medical and Surgical Sealants, Glues, and Hemostats, 2015-2022,” (report #S290).