Researchers at MIT, in collaboration with others from Hong Kong University, have developed a biodegradable nanosolution which is highly effective in stopping bleeding.
Rutledge Ellis-Behnke, a researcher at MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, discovered the remarkable haemostatic properties of the solution while investigating its ability to form a self-assembling scaffold that enables the regrowth of axons in the hamster visual system.
The solution consists of peptides which forms a transparent network of nanofibres upon being added to a wound. The solution has so far been tested in rodents and pigs, where it has been applied to wounds in the brain, spinal cord, liver, skin and cardiovascular system. When applied to wounds, it stopped bleeding within 15 seconds, and promoted also wound healing.
The nanogel can be applied to dry or wet surfaces, and can be used externally or internally. It is also non-toxic, being broken down into amino acids which are reused by cells in protein synthesis.
“It is a completely new way to stop bleeding; whether it produces a physical barrier is unclear at this time,” says Ellis-Behnke. “Maybe it’s creating a nanoscale patch and knitting the materials back together [but] this is just speculation.”
The researchers speculate that the gel works by interacting with the extracellular matrix, and not by inducing blood clotting, which normally begins about 90 seconds after a wound has been incurred. Clotting is characterized by the aggregation of platelets, which was not observed in the wounds to which the gel was applied.
The gel could one day be used by surgeons, who sometimes spend up to half their time during surgical procedures trying to control bleeding. It could reduce the time spent by surgeons controlling bleeding by up to 50%, and could also be used on the battlefield.
The findings are to be reported in a forthcoming issue of the journal Nanomedicine.