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Now, there’s an injectable bandage that stops bleeding, speeds healing

Given the high mortality rates due to haemorrhaging, there is an unmet need to quickly self-administer materials that prevent fatality due to excessive blood loss.

health Updated: Apr 04, 2018 12:27 IST
Sanchita Sharma, Hindustan Times
The gel can be stored at room temperature for a prolong duration, which makes its transportation and use in rough field conditions viable.

An injectable bandage fabricated from a seaweed-derived gel that is used in cooking can stop bleeding and promote wound healing, according to researchers of Indian origin in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Texas A&M University.

This self-administering injectable gel can prevent death from excessive blood loss from road traffic accidents, internal bleeding and shrapnel injury.

Researchers used kappa-carrageenan found in seaweed to design injectable hydrogels, which are jelly-like 3-D water swollen polymer network that simulate the structure of human tissues. Kappa-carrageenan on its own takes around 300 seconds to form a significant clot, but integrating it with nanosilicates reduces the clotting time by approximately two-folds.

The hydrogel is a shear-thinning gel, which flows like a liquid under mechanical force (injection) but solidifies when the force is removed. “Once injected inside the body, the gel comes in contact with blood where component present in blood, such as plasma protein and platelets, get attracted to hydrogel surface and activate platelets to initiate the clotting process,” said Dr Akhilesh K. Gaharwar, assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Texas A&M University. The study is published in the journal Acta Biomaterialia,

“These biomaterials can be introduced into a wound site using minimally invasive approaches to promote a natural clotting cascade and initiate wound healing response after hemostasis (the process to stop bleeding),” said Dr Gaharwar.

Researchers used kappa-carrageenan found in seaweed to design injectable hydrogels, which are jelly-like 3-D water swollen polymer network that simulate the structure of human tissues.

The raw materials for gel fabrication are cheap and easily obtained. “To make 1 ml of injectable bandage, it might cost $1 (Rs 65). If we prepare in bulk, then total cost will be quite low (10 cent/mL),” said Dr Gaharwar. Its versatility makes it possible to incorporate any type of small molecule drugs or large molecule proteins for sustained release.

The gel can be stored at room temperature for a prolong duration, which makes its transportation and use in rough field conditions viable. “Our study has shown that gel have long shelf-life. There is no need for cold-chain storage, so it can be used in remote locations and extreme conditions such as battlefield,” he said.

Innovators are calling it a remarkable addition to the achievements in the field of nanotechnology. “Many people die in road accidents due to internal bleeding from lack of timely medical aid, this innovation will help address the lacunae,” said Manish Goel, founder and CEO, i3 Nanotec LLC & ICube Nanotec India, who has two US patents and one patent in nano clean tech.

“A more conducive environment for academia-industry partnerships and incubation space for young scientists will undoubtedly foster such and many more innovations. It is disheartening to see so many young researchers migrate to IT and finance, when nanotechnology and chemical engineering have the potential of being incredibly lucrative while simultaneously contributing to healthier and wealthier society,“ said Goel.

The gel can be stored at room temperature for a prolong duration, which makes its transportation and use in rough field conditions viable. Innovators are calling it a remarkable addition to the achievements in the field of nanotechnology.

The injectable gel is also conducive to prolonged release of medicines used to heal the wound as the negative surface charge of nanoparticles prompts electrostatic interactions with medicines, resulting in their slow release.

Increasing research is focusing on speeding up the healing process. The use of biologics such as protein and growth factors significantly boost the body’s ability to heal wound faster, but the challenge is to achieve slow release of biologics.

“Currently available technologies for drug delivery have issues like burst release (of medicines), a short therapeutic window, and need for multiple injection/doses. Our injectable bandage can overcome all these problems by sustained and prolong delivery of molecules. Moreover, no chemical modification of either drug or nanoparticles is needed, because our system uses electrostatic forces between drug and nanoparticles for sequestering and releasing process,” said Dr Gaharwar.

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First Published: Apr 03, 2018 16:22 IST