FIRST self-propelled particles capable of delivering coagulants against the flow of blood have been developed to treat severe bleeding, which constitutes a potentially pivotal advancement in trauma care.
“Bleeding is the number one killer of young people, and maternal death from postpartum haemorrhage can be as high as 1 in 50 births in low resource settings so these are extreme problems,” said Prof Christian Kastrup, Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the Michael Smith Laboratories, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Conventional methods of stopping bleeding are not very effective in cases of internal bleeding, such as in the uterus or abdomen. “People have developed hundreds of agents that can clot blood but the issue is that it is hard to push these therapies against severe blood flow, especially far enough upstream to reach the leaking vessels. Here, for the first time, we have come up with an agent that can do that,” explained Prof Kastrup.
Prof Kastrup formed a collaborative research group to create simple, gas-generating calcium carbonate microparticles that may be applied in powder form to prevent critical bleeding. The particles function by releasing carbon dioxide gas in the manner of antacid tablets, to propel them towards the site of bleeding. The carbonate releases porous microparticles that can bind with a clotting agent known as tranexamic acid, transporting it through wounds and deep into the damaged tissue.
Once they had studied and modelled the movement of the particles in vitro, the team confirmed their results using two animal models. The particles proved highly effective in halting bleeding, even in scenarios based on catastrophic events such as a gunshot wound to a femoral artery.
Although far more strenuous testing and development is required to introduce the agent to market, the particles could possess a wide range of uses, from sinus operations to combat wound treatment. “The area we are really focussing on is postpartum haemorrhage: in the uterus, after childbirth…you cannot see the damaged vessels but you can put the powder into that area and the particles can propel and find those damaged vessels.”