Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Nanoscale material almost instantly stops bleeding

Our blood contains several proteins that help with blood clotting. Normally, they are inactive, but when a vessel starts bleeding, they form a net around the damaged area to prevent further leakage. If the blood clotting is impaired, or when someone is bleeding extensively, death from blood loss can occur. Scientists from MIT have created a substance created from biological compounds on a nanoscale, containing a clotting factor, which supposedly stops bleeding almost instantly. This could help patients with deficient clotting factors, or soldiers on the battlefield.

The newly developed material is a coating of two different molecules: thrombin and tannic acid. Thrombin is an important biological agent, involved with blood clotting in our bodies. Tannic acid can be found in tea. The material consists of alternating layers of thrombin and tannic acid, which are stuffed together in a spray. It is applied to sponges, that can be moulded into something applicable to wounds. The structure of the coating results in a relatively high amount of thrombin on the wound sponges, which can then be stored until they are needed.

Battle accessory
According to the MIT researchers, their spray is easy to use on the battlefield in cases of heavy bleeding. By applying a sponge sprayed with the aforementioned coating, bleeding should rapidly stop. It is more effective than conventional clotting agents, which are often difficult to apply, or do not possess enough actual clotting power. In animal tests, applying the sponges 'soaked' in the material created by MIT resulted in a several-fold faster clotting time.

Excessive bleeding is also found in patients that suffer from a disorder that renders clotting factors dysfunctional. There are several variants, collectively known as haemophilia. Perhaps the most famous example of this disease was the son of the Russian tzar: Alexei Nikolaevich, who was diagnosed with haemophilia B. Currently, scientists are testing a gene therapy that may help patients suffering from the blood clotting deficiency. Haemophilia comes with various causes, because the body has an extensive pathway with several factors which trigger each other and eventually result in clotting.
The extensive coagulation network. Key is the formation of thrombin out of prothrombin.
The spray developed by MIT could be a real life safer on the battlefield. During war, all too often soldiers die because of extensive bleeding, which cannot be stopped in time. The same could hold true for patients that are unable to clot the blood themselves in case of a ruptured vessel, but the researchers seem to focus on its use during war.

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