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).

Biologically-based medical glues to start sticking in A/P

The bulk of medical/surgical glues are biologically-based, and soon the bulk of medical glue sales will come from Asia/Pacific.

The two graphs below show the changes in regional shares in biologically-based glues. It can be seen that from 2015 to 2022, the US and Asia-Pacific will practically switch places in terms of revenue share per region. This significant change will come about because of the intensive and enormous healthcare modernization taking place in the PRC. In 2012, the Chinese government announced its 12th five-year plan which includes the construction of 20,000 new hospital and healthcare facilities.

Source: 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).

Growth in Sealants, Glues, Hemostats, and Wound Closure is Absolute, Relative

(See the 2016 published report #S290, “Sealants, Glues, Hemostats, 2016-2022”.)

Of late, I have needed to re-emphasize the difference between absolute and relative growth in medtech markets (and its importance). So, here it is again, this time regarding surgical sealants and other wound closure products.

The lowest relative rate of growth in this industry is the well-established sutures and staples segment. Sales of these products globally, even supported by innovations in bioresorbables and laparoscopic delivery technologies, are only growing at a 5.6% compound annual growth rate from 2013 to 2018. By comparison, growth of sales of surgical glues and sealants is at 9.4% for 2013-2018.

But from an absolute sales growth point of view, sales of sutures and staples will go from $5.2 billion to $6.9 billion, or absolute growth of $1.7 billion. Simultaneously, the relatively high growth in surgical glues and sealants translates to the absolute growth from 2013 to 2018 of only $0.9 billion.

Obviously, both absolute and relative growth are of interest.

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Source: MedMarket Diligence, LLC; Report #S192.

Wound Sealant and Securement Procedure Volumes by Clinical Area and End-Point

(See the 2016 published report #S290, “Sealants, Glues, Hemostats, 2016-2022”.)

Sealants, glues, hemostats, and other products in wound closure and securement offer benefits that vary by clinical area, but the nature of that benefit also varies by the type of end-point (benefit) the product achieves — does it provide a life-saving benefit? A time-saving? Cost-savings? A cosmetic or aesthetic benefit?

Accordingly, by examining the volume of procedures for which closure and securement products provide which kind of benefit is crucial to understanding demand, especially between competitive products.

Below is a categorization of benefits ranging from the critical (I) to the aesthetic (IV).

Criteria for Adjunctive Use of Hemostats, Sealants, Glues and Adhesion Prevention Products in Surgery

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Source: MedMarket Diligence, LLC (Report #S192)

Considering these different categories, below are the volumes of procedures distributed by category across each of the major clinical disciplines.

Surgical Procedures with Potential for the Use of Hemostats, Sealants, Glues and Wound Closure Products, Worldwide (Millions), 2014

 

 

 

 

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Source: MedMarket Diligence, LLC (Report #S192)

(See the 2016 published report #S290, “Sealants, Glues, Hemostats, 2016-2022”.)

Classification of Wounds by Morphology

Wounds may be classified according to their depth and whether underlying tissues are damaged. Partial-thickness wounds do not intrude through the dermis and can heal by regeneration; full-thickness wounds involve both the epidermis and dermis, and sometimes underlying tissues as well. They generally heal by scar formation. Wound classification by morphology is shown below:

TypeTissue CharacteristicsEtiologyPrognosis for Healing
Partial thicknessInvolves entire epidermis and portions of dermis.Friction, pressure, small cuts, minor burns.Heal within 10-18 days, epidermal element germinates and migrates up to the epithelial layer. Heals without significant scarring or functional impairment.
Deep partial thicknessInvolves entire epidermis and almost entire dermis.Friction, cuts, significant burns.Healing within 20-35 days.
Full thicknessInvolves epidermis and dermis; may extend into subcutaneous tissue. Sweat glands and hair follicles are destroyed.Severe deep cuts, surgical incisions, most chronic wounds, and third-degree burns.Heals by granulation, formation of new blood vessels, new biomaterial deposition, and new cells over many weeks. Scarring usually results.
Underlying tissue damageConsidered more extensive than full- thickness wounds. Involves subcutaneous tissue, muscle, fascia, bone, and other organs.Surgery of organs, electrical burns and certain thermal burns, such as molten metal or severe scalding, massive traumatic injury, and untreated chronic damage.May require debridement or removal of all necrotic tissue to expose viable bleeding tissue. Systemic antibiotic therapy and grafts/flap skin replacement.

Source: MedMarket Diligence, LLC

The global wound management market is the subject of Report #S249.

The global market for surgical sealants, glues, hemostats, vascular closure devices, sutures/staples, and tapes is the subject of Report #S192.

See also the October 2015 report, “Worldwide Wound Management, Forecast to 2024:
Established and Emerging Products, Technologies and Markets
in the Americas, Europe, Asia/Pacific and Rest of World”, Report #S251.

Manufacturers of sealants, glues, hemostats

Sealants and glues also are emerging as important adjunctive tools for sealing staple and suture lines, and some of these products also are being employed as general hemostatic agents to control bleeding in the surgical field. Manufacturers have also developed surgical sealants and glues that are designed for specific procedures – particularly those in which staples and sutures are difficult to employ or where additional reinforcement of the internal suture/staple line provides an important safety advantage.

Surgical sealants are made of synthetic or naturally occurring materials and are commonly used with staples or sutures to help completely seal internal and external incisions after surgery. In this capacity, they are particularly important for lung, spinal, and gastrointestinal operations, where leaks of air, cerebrospinal fluid, or blood through the anastomosis can cause numerous complications. Limiting these leaks results in reduced mortality rates, less post-operative pain, shorter hospital stays for patients, and decreased health care costs.

Although some form of suturing wounds has been used for thousands of years, sutures and staples can be troublesome. There are procedures in which sutures are too large or clumsy to place effectively, and locations in which it is difficult for the surgeon to suture. Moreover, sutures can lead to complications, such as intimal hyperplasia, in which cells respond to the trauma of the needle and thread by proliferating on the inside wall of the blood vessel, causing it to narrow at that point. This increases the risk of a blood clot forming and obstructing blood flow. In addition, sutures and staples may trigger an immune response, leading to inflamed tissue that also increases the risk of a blockage. Finally, as mentioned above, sutured and stapled internal incisions may leak, leading to dangerous post-surgical complications.

These are some of the reasons why surgical adhesives are becoming increasingly popular, both for use in conjunction with suture and staples and on a stand-alone basis. As a logical derivative, surgeons want a sealant product that is strong, easy-to-use and affordable, while being biocompatible and resorbable. In reality, it is difficult for manufacturers to meet all of these requirements, particularly with biologically active sealants, which tend to be pricey. Thus, for physicians, there is usually a trade-off to consider when deciding whether or not to employ these products.

Surgical sealants, glues, and hemostats can be divided into several different categories based on their primary components and/or their intended use. For the purposes of this analysis, the market is broken down by composition into products containing biologically active agents, products made from natural and synthetic (nonactive) components, and nonactive scaffolds, patches, sponges, putties, powders, and matrices used as surgical hemostats. The market for sealants, glues, and hemostats, while largely controlled by J&J/Ethicon and Baxter, nonetheless has many active players, many of whom have demonstrated staying power (and growing share) in the global market.

Below is illustrated the manufacturers in bioactive products, non-active natural or synthetic agents, and non-active materials.
Hemostats

Source: MedMarket Diligence, LLC; Report #S192(Note: This report has been superceded by the August 2016 Report #S290.)

Absolute and Relative Growth in Wound Closure Product Sales Worldwide

(See the 2016 published report #S290, “Sealants, Glues, Hemostats, 2016-2022”.)

Medtech manufacturers interested in “growth” markets need to consider the relative versus absolute. Nascent markets can growth from $1 million sales in year 1 to $2 million in year 2, obviously a 100% increase. But in multi-billion markets, a $1 million increase will elicit a yawn from all but the smallest manufacturers.

Just as an exercise, I ranked the growth rates for sales of wound closure products detailed in our Report #S192 by both the absolute sales growth from 2014 to 2018 and the compound annual growth rate over this period. To reveal the differences even further, I ranked all combinations of geographic area and wound closure product type. Partial results — just the top growth rankings, since the list is too long to show all — are shown side by side below (click on the chart to see a more legible version).

Wound Closure Sales Growth, Absolute and Relative, 2014-2018

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Source: “Worldwide Surgical Sealants, Glues, and Wound Closure Markets, 2013-2018”, Report #S192.

Even though tapes, sutures and staples have very modest growth rates in many geographic markets, their current dollar volume sales make such growth much more significant in absolute terms.

 

(See the 2016 published report #S290, “Sealants, Glues, Hemostats, 2016-2022”.)

Sealants, Glues, Hemostasis and Wound Closure Market, Size and Growth

(See the 2016 published report #S290, “Sealants, Glues, Hemostats, 2016-2022”.)

The simple practice of closing wounds is not so simple, driven as it is by the fact that wounds can be the conduit for blood, infectious agents and every other liquid, gas or solid that should not enter or exit the wound.  The closure has to be readily accomplished, regardless of where the wound exists. The closure should not only prevent blood from being lost but ideally should actively stop the bleeding. The wound must stay closed despite the pressures exerted upon it. The closure should also have a minimal “footprint”, with the closure components being easily removed, absorbed or otherwise leaving the least possible trace of the closure, including scar tissue.

Hence, tapes, staples, sutures, clips, hemostatic agents, sealants, glues and other devices have been developed to get the job done.  The market for this range of closure options now reflects biologics, absorbable materials, devices and other products. Fundamentally, the market remains largely dominated by sutures and staples/clips, which have satisfied the demands of internal/external closure, easy of use, low cost, strength of closure and other considerations, not least of which is the evolving nature of surgical practice from the “open” to endo/laparoscopic. Nonetheless, tighter wound sealing, less bleeding and better outcomes in general have driven manufacturers to develop improvements.

Below is illustrated the 2014 market for the range of wound closure products along with their associated growth rates. The prospects for medical/surgical tapes are the exception to the rule, demonstrating a steady decline while better alternatives demonstrate steady growth.

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Source: MedMarket Diligence, LLC; Report #S192

 

(See the 2016 published report #S290, “Sealants, Glues, Hemostats, 2016-2022”.)

Sealants/Glues, Hemostats, Other Wound Closure Markets, Size and Growth

Products in wound closure include sutures/staples, tapes, vascular closure devices, surgical hemostats, and surgical sealants/glues.

Wound types have not changed over history, with a slight exception being the emergence (several decades ago) of femoral punctures associated with catheterization procedures. But what has changed, and what continues to evolve, is the practice of closing those wounds. Sutures, staples and tapes are a mainstay of medical practice, representing uncomplicated methods to secure wounds. And while innovators continue to change the form and function of these products to improve performance, the more recently introduced surgical hemostats, vascular closure, and surgical sealants/glues have seized significant shares of wound closure caseload and are growing marginally faster than sutures/staples and tapes. The result is and will be an erosion of traditional wound closure technology shares.

Below is illustrated the size/growth of segments in the global wound closure market.

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Source: MedMarket Diligence, LLC; “Worldwide Surgical Sealants, Glues, and Wound Closure Markets, 2013-2018”, Report #S192.

Sticky stuff: remora, mussels, geckos, crab shells, Australian burrowing frogs, spider webs, porcupine quills, sandcastle worms

It may not be obvious what links all of these creatures, but it is their all-natural adhesiveness. While we have covered these before, today Researchers at Purdue University report on the development of new glues with industrial applications (including medical) based on glues derived from, or inspired by, mussels and oysters.

The reality is that there is a very wide range of naturally occurring “bio-glues” or other adhesives (or adhesive mechanisms) that are being evaluated for their potential use as medical/surgical glues and adhesives.

(This technique of “biomimicry”, in which products are developed that exploit or replicate features in nature, is not new. Velcro, for instance, was invented in 1941 by Swiss engineer George de Mestral, who recognized a potential product in burrs, the plant seed pods covered with hooked spines that readily attach to fur, fabrics and almost any surface that has filamentous covering.)

Below is a list of organism-derived “bio-glues”, a wide range of naturally-occurring adhesives that are being investigated for their potential development as commercial adhesives, including for medical/surgical adhesion.

Most of these have at least been preliminarily investigated as to why they have such high strength, why they adhere under certain challenging conditions and other considerations. Further research and development, in some cases to an advanced degree, has been done on a number of these to actually either directly utilize these glues, modify them or develop new ones inspired by them.

MedMarket Diligence tracks the medical/surgical markets for fibrin and other sealants, glues, hemostats, tapes, vascular closure devices, and staples/sutures/clips in Report #S192. Products specifically related to closure of wounds (excluding hemostasis*) will exceed $11 billion in sales by 2018:

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*Hemostasis is covered in report #S192.

Source: MedMarket Diligence, LLC; Report #S192.