Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo


Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »

{ action.text }

Dead On

Although a reliable, easy-to-use laser system is essential, many researchers believe simply using a laser to melt the proteins found at the site of the wound can’t make a seal strong enough for clinical use. So, like plumbers and electricians, surgeons have turned to “solders”-in this case, proteins derived from animal or human tissues that melt into the wound and bolster tissue bonding.

While still a medical student in the mid-1980s, Poppas spent several frustrating months in the lab operating on rat urethras, using a laser alone to seal them. “I kept seeing a potential there,” he recalls, “but something wasn’t right.” The laser wasn’t reliably producing a bond strong enough to compete with sutures. So Poppas started playing with protein-rich strips of muscle or vein, or drops of blood that he laid over the cut vessel before hitting it with the laser light. The results were better but still not good enough. He then tried pure protein-a compound called albumin that is abundant in blood serum and egg whites. “I mixed it up and put it on the wound and bonded this thing and it was unbelievable, the results were just phenomenal,” he says. “In fact, I was supposed to go to a [Grateful] Dead concert that day and I missed it because I kept doing these experiments.”

0 comments about this story. Start the discussion »

Tagged: Computing, Biomedicine

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives


Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me