New Fast-Acting Injectable Biomaterials Stop Massive Bleed-outs

This new synthetic material developed by researchers at the University of Washington can help save many lives around the world. PolySTAT is a synthetic enzyme that mimics our body’s natural enzyme called Factor XIII, which plays a significant role in blood clotting and halting the bleeding of wounds.

Severe traumatic injuries can cause rapid loss of large quantities of blood. Class III and Class IV hemorrhage are responsible for thousands of deaths each year. Some statistics state that injury represents the No.1 cause of death among Americans under the age of 44. Unchecked bleeding, among those cases, is a major cause of trauma-related deaths.

Our body is equipped with mechanisms which can stop bleeding from minor injuries within several minutes. This process is known as hemostasis. Platelets gathered around the wound release a chemical that signals alert to attract more platelets, which stick to each other until the plug is formed, unless the wound is too large and our body cannot plug the bleeding site sufficiently fast. Coagulation factors from our blood cause threads of fibrin to cross-link the platelet plug, sealing the wound from the inside. In case of severe injury, usually involving aggravating factors, like shock and stress, additional help is needed to stop hemorrhaging.

There are a number of ways to stop bleeding, some of which are amazingly advanced. Emergency medicine usually utilizes pressure dressing, collagen, and gelatin sponges. Other, recently developed methods like Celox, which uses Chitosan as an active ingredient, Veti-Gel, plant-based gel, which seals up the wound incredibly fast, sometimes in less than 15 seconds, or older version of QuickClot clotting sponge, require surgical intervention to be removed from the wound, and can only be applied externally.

The only other injectable substances, besides PolySTAT, that are able to stop internal bleeding, are platelet-mimicking or platelet-activating substances containing nanoparticles. The problem with these is that in higher dosages they tend to induce the creation of tiny blood clots in kidneys or lungs.So far, no such experiences were recorded with PolySTAT.

The team from Washington University has carried out a series of tests in Petri dish and on lab rats, having a major wound in an artery, and found that the rats which did not receive a PolySTAT treatment lost up to 11 times more blood than the treated ones. The results of the study were published in Science Translational Medicine.