This “injectable bandage” made using seaweed could stop internal bleeding on the battlefield
When you’re shot or struck by shrapnel, it’s not necessarily the external damage you have to worry about most, but the hemorrhaging that goes on inside your body. This internal bleeding is a leading cause of death on the battlefield, and is notoriously difficult to stop without rapid medical attention.
A team of biomedical engineers at Texas A&M University has invented a new way to stave internal bleeding, using an “injectable bandage” made of materials obtained from seaweed.
In a paper published in the journal Acta Biomaterialia, the researchers describe a way to heal internal wounds using a jelly-like hydrogel. Mixing a seaweed-derived thickening agent, known as kappa-carrageenan, with clay-based nanoparticles creates the gelatinous substance, which can then be injected into a body.
“Injectable hydrogels are promising materials for achieving hemostasis in case of internal injuries and bleeding, as these biomaterials can be introduced into a wound site using minimally invasive approaches,” explains Dr Akhilesh K. Gaharwar, from Texas A&M.
The clay-infused gel encourages bleeding to stop (hemostasis), with the nanosilicates improving the structure of the hydrogel so plasma protein and platelets trigger clotting in the blood.
“An ideal injectable bandage should solidify after injection in the wound area and promote a natural clotting cascade,” says Gaharwar. “In addition, the injectable bandage should initiate wound healing response after achieving hemostasis.”
Previous research has led to innovative methods of plugging external wounds, such as the XSTAT 30 sponge-filled syringe, but this new study focuses on healing internal damage. While it has yet to be tested on a human wound, the experiments on animal and human tissue in a lab have been highly encouraging. The team claim blood clotting is catalysed within three minutes of the hydrogel being injected.
The lab samples also showed significantly improved tissue regeneration, and there is even scope for the nanoparticles in the gel to be tailored for delivering medication to a wound site. If further experiments go according to plan, the “injectable bandage” could be a vital tool for saving lives both on and off the battlefield.