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Biodegradable Injectable Material Saves Wounded Soldiers

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 08 Dec 2014
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Image: The injectable coagulation gel with silicate nanoplatelets (Photo courtesy of TAMU).
Image: The injectable coagulation gel with silicate nanoplatelets (Photo courtesy of TAMU).
An injectable coagulation gel could buy wounded soldiers the time they need to survive by preventing blood loss from serious internal injuries.

Developed by researchers at Texas A&M University (TAMU; College Station, TX, USA), Harvard University (Boston, MA, USA), and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT; Cambridge, MA, USA), the potentially life-saving treatment comes in the form of a biodegradable gelatin hydrogel substance embedded with nano-sized silicate discs that aid in coagulation. Once injected, the material solidifies at the targeted area, promoting coagulation.

The two-dimensional, disc-shaped synthetic silicate nanoplatelets have a structure, composition, and arrangement that result in both positive and negative charges on each particle. These charges cause the platelets to modify the hydrogel so that it temporarily changes its viscosity when mechanical force is applied, like ketchup being squeezed from a bottle. This allows the hydrogel to be injected and regain its shape once inside the body. In addition to changing the mechanical properties of the hydrogel, the disc-shaped nanoplatelets also interact with blood to promote clotting in as little as one minute.

The silicate nanoplatelets were demonstrated to decrease in vitro blood clotting times by 77%, and to form stable clot-gel systems. In vivo tests indicated that the nanocomposites are biocompatible and capable of promoting hemostasis in an otherwise lethal liver laceration. According to the researchers, the combination of injectability, rapid mechanical recovery, physiological stability, and the ability to promote coagulation result in a hemostat for treating incompressible wounds in out-of-hospital emergency conditions. The study was published in the October 2014 issue of ACS Nano.

“Most of these penetrating injuries, which today are the result of explosive devices, rupture blood vessels and create internal hemorrhages through which a person is constantly losing blood,” said lead author assistant professor of biomedical engineering Akhilesh Gaharwar, PhD. “You can’t apply pressure inside your body, so you have to have something that can quickly clot the blood without needing pressure.”

Two-dimensional materials are ultrathin substances with high surface area, but a thickness of just a few nanometers or less. For example, if a sheet of paper is 100,000 nanometers thick, the silicate nanoplatelets are just one nanometer thick.

Related Links:

Texas A&M University
Harvard University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

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