College student invents gel that halts bleeding
Veti-Gel is a synthetic version of ECM, which binds cells together and initiates the clotting process.
Thu, Mar 07 2013 at 3:19 PM
Joe Landolina may have invented a cure for bleeding. He claims that his creation, a substance called Veti-Gel, jump-starts the clotting and healing process so quickly that even wounds to internal organs or major arteries are able to close up instantaneously. And Joe has accomplished all this by his third year of college at NYU.
"It instantly tells the body, 'OK, stop the bleeding,' but also it starts the healing process," said Landolina.
Veti-Gel (also sometimes called Medi-Gel) is a synthetic form of the extracellular matrix, or ECM, the substance that forms a kind of scaffolding in the body that holds cells together and also triggers the clotting process if there is an injury. In tests on rats, Landolina was able to close up a slice into the liver and a puncture of the carotid artery. (He plans to publish the results in about two months.)
A bit less gruesome than those tests is a simulation video that Landolina and colleagues at startup Suneris produced. The 26-second clip begins with the team making about a 3-inch slice into a raw pork loin that's been pumped full of pig's blood. That blood immediately pours out as if from a spigot. They then squeeze a layer of Veti-Gel over the cut, and the flow stops immediately. "I have seen [Veti-Gel] close any size wound that it is applied to," said Landolina. "As long as you can cover it, it can close it." [See also: Foam Injection Could Stop Soldiers' Bleeding]
Plants naturally produce a material similar to the human extracellular matrix, but Landolina improves the process by using genetically modified plants to create Veti-Gel. Other wound treatments, such as collagen, come from animals, he said. And some rival treatments require refrigeration. Veti-Gel can be kept in packets or tubes at any temperature from 33 degrees to about 90 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree to 32 degrees Celsius).
Landolina has been developing and testing Veti-Gel at Englewood Hospital in New Jersey. Dr. Herbert Dardik, who oversees Landolina's work at the hospital, told TechNewsDaily by email, "The material has promise… but the work is in its early stages and we need to carry out confirmatory tests. I am optimistic for the future."
Veti-Gel could also serve as a treatment for severe burns, Landolina said. "One of my other colleagues … he went to a bonfire. One of his friends fell into the fire and got second-degree burns. He put the gel on, and the next day it was healed," Landolina said.
That scenario recalls a scene from the movie "The Hunger Games," in which the heroine applies a sci-fi cream to a burn that quickly heals. Landolina knows it well.
Veti-Gel does three things in particular, depending on what part of the wound it comes in contact with. It can stimulate the creation of a blood-clotting substance, activate platelet cells to further plug the hole or cover and compress the wound.
When any part of the body is wounded, the damaged extracellular matrix helps trigger a cascade of chemical reactions in the blood that ends in fibrin — fibers that join togehter to start blood clots.
If Veti-Gel reaches the blood's platelet cells, it helps signal them to change shape and stick together to further help plug the hole in a blood vessel. [See also: Artificial Blood Clots to Improve Soldier Survival]
And when Veti-Gel comes into contact with the extracellular matrix in the wounded tissue, it binds to it, forming a kind of cover over the area. That eliminates the need to even apply pressure to the wound. "It looks like, feels like, and acts like skin," said Landolina.
If Veti-Gel works as well as claimed, it could rival other products designed to close wounds. The U.S. military typically uses QuikClot, gauze soaked in kaolin, a material that activates platelets to form a clot. But it requires several minutes of applying pressure. Hospitals typically use Floseal, a bovine gelatin containing human thrombin, the enzyme that produces fibrin for clotting.
Landolina is currently designing tests to compare Veti-Gel to those rival treatments and is looking for an independent researcher to perform the evaluation. He hopes to have the results this summer. Landolina is also looking to start testing Veti-Gel with veterinarians.
"We are eager to see the results," said Marisa Tricarico, who evaluates medical investments for the NYU Innovation Venture Fund. "He has impressed a lot of people," she said of Landolina (that includes assessments from medical experts).
Landolina has applied for a patent and is beginning the FDA approval process. He also plans to apply for a grant from the Department of Defense, which he hopes will some day be a client. (He plans to market a version for the military called Medi-Gel.)
With all the success he's already had, Landolina may feel it's time to have a drink and celebrate. But he'll have to wait a bit longer — he doesn't turn 21 until next January.
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