A new injectable polymer developed by researchers at the University of Washington (UW; Seattle) could strengthen blood clots and save countless lives on the battlefield, in rural areas and anywhere else where immediate medical treatment may not be available.
Following an injury, PolySTAT could be injected into the patient on site to staunch bleeding until he or she can receive proper medical care. Unlike other clotting treatments that require refrigerated or frozen blood products, a syringe loaded with the polymer could be carried inside a backpack for emergency use.
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"Most of the patients who die from bleeding die quickly," said Dr. Nathan White, an assistant professor of emergency medicine who teamed with UW bioengineers and chemical engineers to develop the macromolecule. "This is something you could [. . . ] give right away to reduce blood loss and keep people alive long enough to make it to medical care." The new polymer is described in a paper featured on the cover of the March 4 issue of Science Translational Medicine.
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In an initial study conducted with rats, 100% of animals injected with PolySTAT survived a typically lethal injury to the femoral artery. Only 20% of rats treated with a natural protein that helps blood clot survived. Researchers say the material could reach human clinical trials in five years.
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