Hemorrhaging remains the greatest cause of death in otherwise survivable battlefield injuries. In a 2011 study of deaths after casualties reached a medical treatment facility from October 2001 to June 2009, the United States Army Institute of Surgical Research found that 80% died from hemorrhage resulting from major trauma. On or off the battlefield, anytime shrapnel or other material penetrates the torso, a limb, or anywhere on the body, uncontrolled profuse bleeding can be fatal. We’ve written about Core Scientific Creation’s WoundClot and RedMedX XStat 30, both designed to stem or slow bleeding.

Scientists at the Inspired Nanomaterials and Tissue Engineering Lab at the Texas A&M University Department of Biomedical Engineering developed an injectable bandage to stop bleeding and promote healing. Led by assistant professor Dr. Akhilesh k. Gaharwar, the team fabricated the bandage with a gelling agent used in pastries. The gel consists of a mixture of kappa-carrageenan and nanosilicates that creates an injectable hydrogel that helps stop bleeding. The negative charge of the nanoparticles reacts with blood and plasma with a controlled release of a medication payload. According to Gaharwar,  “An ideal injectable bandage should solidify after injection in the wound area and promote a natural clotting cascade. In addition, the injectable bandage should initiate wound healing response after achieving hemostasis.” The team’s work is detailed in “Nanoengineered Injectable Hydrogels for Wound Healing Application” published in Acta Biomaterialia.

Dual-purpose injectable gels have implications beyond battlefields. Emergency responders and in-house clinical staff encounter numerous medical and surgical circumstances where materials that can promote healing and prevent or slow infection while simultaneously stemming the blood flow could be life-saving.