Cohera Medical, Inc., a company spun out of the University of Pittsburgh in 2006, was named by the Pittsburgh Technology Council as the 2015 Innovator of the Year—Life Sciences during its annual Tech 50 Awards ceremony, which was held October 29 at the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh, Downtown. McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Eric Beckman, PhD, and oral and maxillofacial surgeon Michael Buckley (formerly of Pitt’s School of Dental Medicine) developed the core technology that led to the company’s first adhesive technology product offering—TissuGlu. TissuGlu is a biodegradable, biocompatible product that provides surgeons with an alternative to stapling, stitching, or less-effective surgical wound sealants currently used to close large tissue flaps resulting from abdominoplasties (tummy tucks) and other surgical procedures.
“The original collaboration between Michael and myself was targeted at an entirely different technology and clinical issue, where we essentially stumbled upon the potential to create a biocompatible adhesive,” said Dr. Beckman, the George M. Bevier Professor of Engineering in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering. “Clinicians have lacked internal adhesives that are both strong and safe, and it’s exciting that TissuGlu was the first internal tissue adhesive to be approved by the FDA.”
TissuGlu completed European clinical trials in 2010 and received a CE mark certifying its conformity with European Union health standards in July 2011; Cohera Medical launched its first products in September of that year in Germany.
Surgeons use TissuGlu by using a hand-held applicator to apply drops of TissuGlu liquid. After applying the drops, the surgeon positions the abdominoplasty flap in place. Water in the patient’s tissue starts chemical reactions that bond the flaps together and cure the adhesive into a flexible solid. The surgeon then proceeds with standard closure of the skin using sutures. Compared to other options, TissuGlu seals large-lap wounds more effectively, reducing fluid buildup and potentially the need for drains, and offering a number of other advantages, including a lower risk of postoperative complications arising from drain use.