A new powder coagulant has been developed that may have medical applications for its ability to control blood loss. The powder, made of porous micro-particles, comes from a team of researchers including biochemical engineers and emergency physicians at the University of British Columbia who have been working to find a solution to severe bleeding, particularly interested in reducing post-partem haemorrhagic death.
Rapid blood loss, such as when an artery is severed, or in the case of internal bleeding, where the source of the blood cannot be easily identified or staunched, can lead to dramatic consequences e.g. hypovolemic shock, and potentially death, as it is so difficult to stem the flow. The advantage over other coagulants is that these particles are self-propelled towards the source, where they can reach deep into tissue to the site of damage. As a result, when they interact with the body’s clotting agent tranxemic acid, they can be very successful limiting blood loss.
The force of propulsion arises from carbon dioxide gas given off by the bicarbonate particles, in a similar fashion to antacid tablets. After studying the movements in vitro, multiple animal models have been used to confirm effective reduction in bleeding, for example in scenarios imitating a possibly-fatal gunshot damaging the femoral artery.
Christian Kastrup (of the UBC team) says, “Bleeding is the number one killer of young people, and maternal death from postpartum haemorrhage can be as high as one in 50 births in low resource settings.” While it has many checks and trials before it can be considered for therapeutic use, this may have applications in gynaecological and emergency medicine (particularly in less developed areas) as well as combat zones, where the simplicity of action could make it easy to use.