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Now, a sponge that can help stop bleeding

At first glance, it looks like a piece of thermocol. But, when placed on a profusely bleeding wound, the porous substance can stop bleeding and has the potential to get absorbed in the body without any side effects.
By Snehal Rebello | Hindustan Times, Mumbai
UPDATED ON NOV 22, 2010 01:36 AM IST

At first glance, it looks like a piece of thermocol. But, when placed on a profusely bleeding wound, the porous substance can stop bleeding and has the potential to get absorbed in the body without any side effects.

After a three-year research, a two-member team from the Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT), Matunga, has developed a Haemostatic BioSponge, a bio-degradable dressing that is non-toxic and can arrest bleeding.

The team has filed a patent for the product, for which animal trials began 15 days ago at the Bombay Veterinary College, Parel.

“Uncontrolled haemorrhage (bleeding) remains the leading cause of pre-hospital trauma deaths in combat, hospitals and veterinary clinics,” said Kalpesh Chokashi, a PhD student in bioprocess technology. “To date, the preferred intervention for severely bleeding wounds is to apply continuous pressure with a gauze bandage. This is not effective as it does not safely stop severe blood flow.”

At present, the dressing that is used to arrest bleeding is made from either gelatin or chitosan, a non-toxic compound extracted from crab shell, which are then cross-linked with toxic chemicals. The ICT team cross-linked gelatin made from animal bone with chitosan and converted it into foam.

The foam was dried and poured into moulds to form the BioSponge, which was then sterilised with gamma rays.

Apart from stopping blood flow, the BioSponge, which is made of biomaterial, can also be safely absorbed in the body. “A regular gelatin dressing, which is cross linked with toxins, can be harmful if it stays inside the body,” said Professor BN Thorat from the chemical engineering department. The BioSponge can be used as first aid for cuts as well as surgeries.

According to doctors, gelatin is a source for the growth of bacteria and hence carries the scope of infection. Besides, gelatin dressings can get damaged due to bending, loading and are also susceptible to disintegration in heavy bleeding.

On other hand, chitin has anti-viral and anti-malaria properties hence the chance of contamination is less. But, on its own, these chitosan dressings have low absorption capacity and mechanical strength. Cross-linking gelatin and chitosan increases the mechanical stability and resistance to dissolution during application.

“BioSponge would be useful where bleeding control is priority as the sponge would help to enable clot formation just like gel foam, which is readily available in the market,” said Dr Vivek Soni, maxillofacial surgeon and dean of Dr DY Patil Dental College and Hospital. “It is a good concept if bio-compatibility is fully established.”

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