When someone gets a severe injury, the injury itself might not even be what’s causing them the most harm—it could likely be the post-traumatic bleeding. In fact, uncontrolled post-traumatic bleeding is the leading cause of potentially preventable death among trauma patients, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
That’s why Chinese researchers have developed what they call a “biological glue,” which they hope will one day be able to prevent hearts and arteries from bleeding uncontrollably.
All the current models of bleeding prevention—medically known as hemostatic agents—suffer from the same problem, according to the authors. They poorly control hemorrhaging from traumatic cardiac wounds “because of their weak adhesion to wet and mobile tissues,” saysthe team, mostly from Zhejiang University School of Medicine, in its Nature Communications paper.
Instead of trying to recreate the band-aid, the team decides to mimic what’s known as extracellular matrix (ECM). All animals are made out of cells. Most animals have an ECM, or places within their body where proteins and carbohydrates create a complex 3D mesh. The most abundant protein in the human body, collagen, is found within the ECM and is essentially the building blocks of the body’s connective tissues. Muscles, joints, and even teeth are all reliant on the ECM to keep things in place.
While it hasn’t been tested on humans yet, the hydrogel adhesive has done phenomenally well in testing on pig hearts, which share many similarities with human hearts, like two atriums and two ventricles. In fact, pig hearts have been used to keep primates alive. The proof of the adhesive’s effectiveness can be seen with the visual evidence, scientists says.
“It is the first time that high-pressure bleeding of beating heart with 6 mm diameter cardiac penetration holes were rapidly stopped and the wounds were stably sealed by only using matrix gel within 20 s without suture,” the scientists say in their discussion of their findings. “Our data demonstrate that this synthetic gel … can rapidly stop bleeding from cardiac penetration injuries.”
Hongwei Ouyang, one of the study authors, tells ScienceAlert that the matrix gel, as it has been deemed, could be ready within 3 to 5 years.
Originally published on Popular Mechanics