The Tokyo University of Science recently published a report stating that its team of scientists was successful in developing a polymer-based-hydrogel, a welcomed improvement to the complicated formulations currently in use. Until now there have been no treatments to prevent fistulae from developing after pancreatic surgery.
Repairing the fistulae is a long and involved process. Prevention would save so many lives. The risk of fistulae occurring may be as high as fifty percent.
About the Hydrogel
The hydrogel is designed to inhibit the growth of pancreatic fistulae(ducts) which is a common and sometimes fatal occurrence after pancreatic surgery. The fistula results from pancreatic juice leakage and forms an unnatural connection from the pancreas to other organs. An intraperitoneal abscess develops as well as lethal hemorrhaging.
The researchers used Exceval® and Poval® polyvinyl alcohol hydrogels for their study. Their initial focus was on “swelling behavior” caused by hydrogels’ water absorption.
The researchers were particularly aware that due to absorption, hydrogels may rupture. Given that the Exceval® hydrogel had a lower degree of swelling and an increase in elasticity and gel strength, it proved to be superior to Poval®.
The researchers went on to test hydrogel in a pancratic fistula rat model. The results gave every indication that the pancreatic leakage was controlled. The rats given the hydrogel had decreased levels of pancreatic enzymes as well as less abdominal fluid.
All indications were that pancreatic juices and abdominal fluid were absorbed by the hydrogel thus preventing pancreatic fistula.
Professor Takehisa Hanawa of Tokyo University explained that due to the fact that hydrogel from the study can absorb liquid, the researchers are of the belief that it can also be applied to cancerous skin ulcers or wounds. Therefore, the hydrogel will not only absorb secretions, but it has the potential to release medicine.
Indeed, Exceval® hydrogel appears to be on target for its primary purpose of preventing pancreatic fistulae.