Web Date: March 27, 2015
Biopolymer Derived From Crustaceans Could Combat Military Mortalities
A foam composed of a polymer derived from crustacean shells may prevent more soldiers from falling victim to the most prolific killer on the battlefield: blood loss.
Pressure is one of the best tools that medics have to fight bleeding, but they can’t use it on severe wounds near organs. Here, compression could do more harm than good, Srinivasa R. Raghavan of the University of Maryland explained Wednesday during a presentation at the American Chemical Society national meeting in Denver.
First responders have no way to effectively dam blood flows from these noncompressible injuries, which account for the majority of hemorrhagic deaths, Raghavan said.
Speaking in a session hosted by the Polymeric Materials: Science & Engineering Division, Raghavan announced that he and Remedium Technologies, a start-up company led by one of his former students, have developed a foam that the Food & Drug Administration is currently evaluating for use on noncompressible injuries.
The foam relies on chitosan, a biopolymer that comes from processed crustacean shells. By modifying the chitosan with hydrophobic moieties, Raghavan’s team gave the material the ability to anchor blood cells into gel-like networks, essentially forming blood clots. The researchers dispersed the modified chitosan in an aqueous solution to create a fluid they could spray directly onto noncompressible wounds.
As the solution sprays from an aerosol can, it traps bubbles of a biocompatible hydrocarbon propellant gas and begins to foam. The foam expands to cover the injury and block blood flow. Coupled with the modified chitosan’s coagulating effect, the foam can reduce blood loss by up to 90%, the researchers demonstrated during tests performed on pig livers.
Ankur Kulshrestha and Srini Sridharan, both of whom work in research and development for Bristol-Myers Squibb, said they organized the session in Denver to showcase research that could make an industrial impact. Innovation requires both good science and commercial potential, Kulshrestha said, and the new foam “is a very innovative product.”
Raghavan stressed that the foam combats blood loss—it doesn’t repair the injured tissue—but that it could help patients survive until a surgeon can more fully treat the damage.
“We really believe we have a material here that can find its way into emergency vehicles and even soldiers’ backpacks,” he said.
- Chemical & Engineering News
- ISSN 0009-2347
- Copyright © American Chemical Society