Skip to main content

Skip the sutures. ‘Game-changing ‘superglue’ could heal serious knee injuries

New hydrogel adheres firmly to cartilage and meniscus

Are you plagued by joint problems? A groundbreaking new superglue-style material could help revolutionize treatments such as knee surgery by strongly adhering to the injured body part, and then conveying repair cells or drugs in order to stimulate tissue regeneration. Developed by two groups of researchers at Switzerland’s École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), the new hydrogel material — which is composed of almost 90 percent water — naturally adheres to soft tissue such as cartilage or the meniscus.

“In cases of cartilage injury, it is common for the surgeons to discover that a hole is present in the cartilage itself,” Dominique Pioletti, associate professor in EPFL’s Laboratory of Biomechanical Orthopedics, told Digital Trends. “If a piece of cartilage has been torn out — for example, following a severe injury of the leg — to repair it, you would need to place a substance, such as a scaffold, in the defect. The fixation of this material to the treated tissue is usually difficult and relies on a mechanical system such as stitches. This is a paradox because it means that you must further hurt the tissue you are supposed to be treating.”

That’s not the only problem. Suturing a soft tissue such as a meniscus can be difficult when the suture is placed on a load-bearing part of the tissue. Having a material that sticks by itself to the tissue is therefore an interesting and potentially game-changing alternative.


The hydrogel developed by the researchers is a massive 10 times more adhesive than the other bioadhesives developed for this task. Its high water content also makes it similar in composition to the natural tissue that it is designed to heal. “This hydrogel presents the advantages of being mostly composed of water, which facilitates its injection through a small needle and will allow us to load it with cells or drugs,” Pioletti said. “Cells or drugs can therefore be maintained locally where the hydrogel is applied.”

At present, the researchers have developed the gel itself. The next part of the study will involve combining the developed hydrogel with the necessary repair cells and other drugs to help carry out repairs. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before clinical trials can be carried out.

A paper describing the research, titled “Composite Double-Network Hydrogels To Improve Adhesion on Biological Surfaces,” was recently published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

Editors' Recommendations

Luke Dormehl
I'm a UK-based tech writer covering Cool Tech at Digital Trends. I've also written for Fast Company, Wired, the Guardian…
Digital Trends’ Top Tech of CES 2023 Awards
Best of CES 2023 Awards Our Top Tech from the Show Feature

Let there be no doubt: CES isn’t just alive in 2023; it’s thriving. Take one glance at the taxi gridlock outside the Las Vegas Convention Center and it’s evident that two quiet COVID years didn’t kill the world’s desire for an overcrowded in-person tech extravaganza -- they just built up a ravenous demand.

From VR to AI, eVTOLs and QD-OLED, the acronyms were flying and fresh technologies populated every corner of the show floor, and even the parking lot. So naturally, we poked, prodded, and tried on everything we could. They weren’t all revolutionary. But they didn’t have to be. We’ve watched enough waves of “game-changing” technologies that never quite arrive to know that sometimes it’s the little tweaks that really count.

Read more
Digital Trends’ Tech For Change CES 2023 Awards
Digital Trends CES 2023 Tech For Change Award Winners Feature

CES is more than just a neon-drenched show-and-tell session for the world’s biggest tech manufacturers. More and more, it’s also a place where companies showcase innovations that could truly make the world a better place — and at CES 2023, this type of tech was on full display. We saw everything from accessibility-minded PS5 controllers to pedal-powered smart desks. But of all the amazing innovations on display this year, these three impressed us the most:

Samsung's Relumino Mode
Across the globe, roughly 300 million people suffer from moderate to severe vision loss, and generally speaking, most TVs don’t take that into account. So in an effort to make television more accessible and enjoyable for those millions of people suffering from impaired vision, Samsung is adding a new picture mode to many of its new TVs.
[CES 2023] Relumino Mode: Innovation for every need | Samsung
Relumino Mode, as it’s called, works by adding a bunch of different visual filters to the picture simultaneously. Outlines of people and objects on screen are highlighted, the contrast and brightness of the overall picture are cranked up, and extra sharpness is applied to everything. The resulting video would likely look strange to people with normal vision, but for folks with low vision, it should look clearer and closer to "normal" than it otherwise would.
Excitingly, since Relumino Mode is ultimately just a clever software trick, this technology could theoretically be pushed out via a software update and installed on millions of existing Samsung TVs -- not just new and recently purchased ones.

Read more
AI turned Breaking Bad into an anime — and it’s terrifying
Split image of Breaking Bad anime characters.

These days, it seems like there's nothing AI programs can't do. Thanks to advancements in artificial intelligence, deepfakes have done digital "face-offs" with Hollywood celebrities in films and TV shows, VFX artists can de-age actors almost instantly, and ChatGPT has learned how to write big-budget screenplays in the blink of an eye. Pretty soon, AI will probably decide who wins at the Oscars.

Within the past year, AI has also been used to generate beautiful works of art in seconds, creating a viral new trend and causing a boon for fan artists everywhere. TikTok user @cyborgism recently broke the internet by posting a clip featuring many AI-generated pictures of Breaking Bad. The theme here is that the characters are depicted as anime characters straight out of the 1980s, and the result is concerning to say the least. Depending on your viewpoint, Breaking Bad AI (my unofficial name for it) shows how technology can either threaten the integrity of original works of art or nurture artistic expression.
What if AI created Breaking Bad as a 1980s anime?
Playing over Metro Boomin's rap remix of the famous "I am the one who knocks" monologue, the video features images of the cast that range from shockingly realistic to full-on exaggerated. The clip currently has over 65,000 likes on TikTok alone, and many other users have shared their thoughts on the art. One user wrote, "Regardless of the repercussions on the entertainment industry, I can't wait for AI to be advanced enough to animate the whole show like this."

Read more