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Squid gel key to surgery glue

Published: 8:28PM Saturday November 17, 2007 Source: ONE News

Scientists at Otago University have revealed how a sea creature that often ends up on our plates has provided the key ingredient for a medical gel.

The gel extracted from squid helps control scarring and bleeding. This can be used during different types of surgery, especially tricky operations through the nose such as sinus operations.

Around a third of sinus operations have to be repeated because bleeding and scarring cause adhesions that block the sinuses again.

So Professor Brian Robinson and colleagues at Otago turned to the sea and the squid to find an answer to the reoccurring problem.

They discovered a way of creating a water soluble gel out of an extract from squid.

"The first thing we tried had the required biological properties. We didn't know but we were just lucky it did," says Professor Robinson.

Like a commercial glue, two ingredients are mixed at the last moment and then squirted over the surgical wounds.

"It stops the formation of adhesions and blood clots and it stays in place for about a week and then it naturally dissolves," Professor Robinson adds.

Trials in Australia are going well and there are some very major medical device companies who have expressed a great deal of interest in the gel.

So Otago university has taken out a patent.

"We're really excited about it and what's nice is our excitement is matched by our surgical colleagues," says Professor Robinson.

The squid gel will hopefully be available for use in operating theatres as early as this time next year.