Scientists at Texas A&M University are harnessing the combined power of organic nanomaterials-based chemistry and a natural product found in crustacean exoskeletons to help bring emergency medicine one step closer to a viable solution for mitigating blood loss, from the hospital to the battlefield.
Hemorrhage is a leading cause of death in traumatic injuries, ranking fourth in the United States at a total cost of $671 billion in 2013. Working with an interdisciplinary team involving collaborators from Assiut University in Egypt, Texas A&M chemist Karen Wooley’s research group has developed a bioabsorbable wound dressing that builds on the already proven blood-flow-staunching properties of chitosan – a natural material widely used in commercial wound dressings – by taking them nanoscale to boost their effectiveness and impact.
Wooley’s team, led by Texas A&M chemistry Ph.D. student and NASA Space Technology Research Fellow Eric Leonhardt, successfully encapsulated highly entangled nanofibers of chitosan within a sugar-based hydrogel that dissolves in as little as seven days, leaving behind a significantly larger available wound-healing surface while eliminating the need for subsequent physical removal. Their results are published in Nature Communications.