Cut your finger and it will take a few minutes before the body’s defence mechanisms stem the bleeding. Dealing with serious blood loss, on the other hand, requires the use of mechanical or thermal intervention that can cause secondary tissue damage, while chemical agents that induce clotting or constriction of the veins may lead to a negative immune response.
A team of US and Chinese medical researchers led by Rutledge Ellis-Behnke of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Kwok-Fai So from the University of Hong Kong, have now discovered a way of stopping bleeding using a self-assembling molecule that forms a highly effective and quick acting nanofibre barrier. It does not act as a clotting agent.
Nano Hemostat Solution (NHS-1) is applied directly to the wound as a liquid or gel, and can lead to complete haemostasis within 15 seconds. The solution is non-toxic and non-immunogenic, and breaks down naturally into simple amino acids that the body can use in the healing process.
“The discovery was made while we were doing our animal experiment on brain repair, during which the blood vessels were cut,” says Kwok-Fai So. “On application of the peptide solution, the animal stopped bleeding with the heart still beating, and we knew we were on to something very interesting.”
The discovery has been reported in the journal Nanomedicine (subscription required).
Kwok-Fai So and his colleagues are clearly excited about the potential of their discovery, believing that it could revolutionise surgical procedures. Clinical trials involving human subjects are planned within three to four years, and the technology is currently in the process of being patented.
Article first published in Nanomaterials News. © 2006 Pira International – all rights reserved.