22 May 2023

Engineers figured out how to stop severe internal bleeding

The two-component system promotes the formation of artificial blood clots at sites of injury, mimicking the body's natural defenses.

Bioengineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a two-component system that helps stop severe internal bleeding. The technology, which has so far only been tested on an animal model, will eventually help keep patients alive after injuries and severe accidents: they will be able to avoid critical blood loss on their way to the hospital.
When internal injuries occur, platelets are attracted to the site and initiate a clotting cascade. The result is the formation of a sticky plug of platelets and clotting proteins, including fibrinogen. But if patients lose a lot of blood, such as in a serious car accident, they don't have enough platelets or fibrinogen to form clots. Researchers created a system that replaces both key components of blood clotting - platelets and fibrinogen - with artificial bodies.

The scientists used previously developed nanoparticles made of a biocompatible polymer that can bind to activated platelets. Such particles, ranging in size from 140 to 220 nm, accumulate in the area of damage but "ignore" healthy organs - such as the lungs, where clot formation can be dangerous.

As the second component of the system, the engineers developed particles that they called crosslinking agents. They are made of polyethylene glycol, are able to find target nanoparticles in the wound area by special markers and form clusters that mimic blood clots.

The researchers tested their system on a mouse model. Experiments showed that the two-component system was more effective than existing methods in stopping internal bleeding in animals and did not cause a significant allergic reaction. At the same time, unlike natural clots, the artificial formations were more stable: they did not collapse when injected with saline, which is used in medical institutions to maintain blood pressure during major blood loss.

The researchers plan to test the technology on other animal models before starting clinical trials.
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