Sprayable gel simplifies surgeries

Colonoscopies are a boon for preventing colon cancer, but patients may develop gastrointestinal bleeding or dangerous small tears in the intestine if doctors end up having to remove polyps in the process.

Now MIT researchers have developed a gel that can be sprayed through an endoscope onto the surgical sites, where it instantly forms a tough but flexible layer that protects the damaged area, reinforces the tissue, and allows it to heal. 

In an animal study, the researchers showed that the gel, called GastroShield, is simple to apply in the course of current endoscopic procedures and provides wound protection for three to seven days. 

In addition to its potential in colonoscopies, this gel could be useful for treating stomach ulcers and inflammatory conditions such as Crohn’s disease, or for delivering cancer drugs, says Natalie Artzi, a principal research scientist in MIT’s Institute for Medical Engineering and Science, who coauthored a paper on the work with colleagues including Professor Elazer Edelman ’78, SM ’79, PhD ’84, former MIT postdoc Pere Dosta, and former visiting student Gonzalo Muñoz Taboada. 

Members of the research team have started a company called BioDevek that plans to further develop the new material for use in humans. 

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