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Branching polymer could heal cataract wounds

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10:42am, October 19, 2004

Cataract surgery might get a little easier thanks to a transparent gel that seals surgical incisions in the eye better than standard sutures do.

Approximately 11 million patients worldwide undergo cataract surgery each year. In the procedure, surgeons make a small incision in the cornea, remove the clouded lens, replace it with a clear synthetic lens, and close the incision with nylon sutures. These sutures sometimes cause inflammation and infections.

Mark Grinstaff of Boston University has devised an alternative to nylon sutures. He combined two types of polymers to make a gel that's biocompatible and degradable. One of the ingredients is a large, branched molecule called a dendron, and the other is a linear polymer. When mixed, the linear polymer stitches together the dendron's branches, forming a gel.

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