Scientists at Texas A&M University are harnessing the combined power of organic nanomaterials-based chemistry and a natural product found in crustacean exoskeletons to help bring emergency medicine one step closer to a viable solution for mitigating blood loss, from the hospital to the battlefield.
Hemorrhage is a leading cause of death in traumatic injuries, ranking fourth in the United States at a total cost of $671 billion in 2013. Working with an interdisciplinary team involving collaborators from Assiut University in Egypt, Texas A&M chemist Karen Wooley's research group has developed a bioabsorbable wound dressing that builds on the already proven blood-flow-staunching properties of chitosan - a natural material widely used in commercial wound dressings - by taking them nanoscale to boost their effectiveness and impact.
Chitosan, a natural product found in crustacean exoskeletons, has a proven efficacy in slowing blood flow and it also offers antimicrobial properties.
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Wooley's team, led by Texas A&M chemistry Ph.D. student and NASA Space Technology Research Fellow Eric Leonhardt, successfully encapsulated highly entangled nanofibers of chitosan within a sugar-based hydrogel that dissolves in as little as seven days, leaving behind a significantly larger available wound-healing surface while eliminating the need for subsequent physical removal. Their results are published in Nature Communications.
"Bioabsorbable wound dressings that can be applied and left in the injury site are desirable for a variety of blood loss scenarios -- for example, to control bleeding in traumatic injuries and to save lives on both civilian and military fronts," said Leonhardt, who served as first author on the team's paper. "The composite materials we have developed are malleable and could be easily administered to wound sites. They have also performed significantly better in terms of reducing the amount of blood loss and the time required to achieve hemostasis against commercially available bioabsorbable wound dressing in several animal models."
MEDICA-tradefair.com; Source: Texas A&M University