Uncontrolled bleeding, either during a battle or due to lack of coagulating substances in the blood, has been a primary cause for deaths due to injury from the days of yore. Prehistoric medical data suggests that man used grass and herbs to dress wounds. Towards the period of Sushruta in 1100 BC, surgeons of the time even practiced suturing for its high tensile strength and low dehiscence. However, suturing carried with it possibilities of high infection rate, inconvenience in handling, and concern over possible transmission of blood-borne disease through needles.
Towards the previous century, medical professionals tried to address this concern by developing hemostasis agents, clips, staples, tapes, and tissue adhesives for faster and more effective bleeding control and wound closure. But even that’s entering a bygone era with a new form of instant wound closure – a polymer gel that helps clot blood instantly and begins the healing process.
Brooklyn-based medical device company Suneris has created a plant-based hemophilic gel called Vetigel that can stop even profuse bleeding in a few seconds. The gel is created from polysaccharides that, when injected near the wound area, instantly forms a mesh and seals the wound.
Vetigel is the brainchild of Joe Landolina, who created the product at the age of 17. Now 22 years, he is the co-founder of Suneris. Vetigel uses a gel technology of natural polymers that work in tandem with the body’s cellular clotting signals and accelerates hemostasis. Once this gel is injected into the wound area, it immediately activates platelet accumulation that forms a mesh to bind the wound site. This in turn accelerates the binding of fibrin, a clotting protein, resulting in coagulating blood and stabilizing the clot to maintain over time until the wound is healed.
Once is enough
Since this gel works well for both internal and external wounds, and also because a first time application itself creates a strong enough clot, it pretty much negates its usage multiple times for the same injury. It’s quick working time also reduces blood loss to a large extent, when compared to suturing.
How does it work?
The polymer gel technology is registered under US patent application 20140287061. It is now being used for veterinary purposes, and pretty much begins like algae. Once this gel– which is made up of tiny individual polymers – is injected into the wound area (it can be anything from an open wound to a damaged tissue in the kidney), it immediately forms a mesh-like structure. This acts like a strong adhesive and holds the wound together, while it helps the body produce fibrin right on the wounded surface. The makers of Vetigel suggest that within a few minutes of applying the gel, it can be removed as fibrin takes over the task of healing the wound naturally.
Several scientists have been researching the technology of quick coagulation of blood to heal wounds. Some prominent patents include US 20070255238 A1, US6413539B1 and US20070255238A1. While each describes a different version of the technology to heal wounds instantaneously, it does go to show that instant blood coagulation is growing into a popular area of research in the biotechnology industry.
Oregon-based medical products manufacturer RevMedx has created an injectible called XStat. The company claims that the syringe injects tony sponges into a wound and stems bleeding in just 15 seconds. The sponge is made of foam created from wood pulp that is coated with chitosan, a blood coagulating antimicrobial substance. The sponge is sized as big as an aspirin tablet, and expands once it is injected into the wound, sticking to the surface and stemming blood flow.
The company initially experimented the product on animals and soon enough earned a $5 million funding from the US Army for use in battles to treat gunshot wounds. Priced at about $100, the drug is awaiting the FDA’s approval for commercial use.
While companies such as RevMedx and Suneris are battling it out to make a commercial cut, the technology is witnessing a growing medical market that is ready to welcome it for all its powers to heal.
(Featured image source:https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:ICU_IV_1.jpg)