One of the biggest challenges for medics on the battlefield is treating blood loss, which is among the leading causes of death for wounded soldiers. Bandages infused with chemicals designed to assist blood clotting helps, but applying these chemicals to the surface of wounds has its limits. To best stem blood loss, those chemicals need to be able to find their way deep into a wound.
There may now be a solution, however, and it comes in the unlikely form of fizz, reports Wired. Researchers have developed bandages infused with a new chemical recipe that fizzes on contact with blood. The resultant bubbles then act as transport for the clotting agents, propelling them deep into a wound as they pop.
The new concoction is composed of powdered marble, tranexamic acid — which blocks a clot-dissolving enzyme — and the clotting enzyme thrombin. Water from the blood is the catalysis that sets it fizzing.
“If you can get the particles in the general area of the wound, they will do the work and get the drugs to the damaged vessels,” explained Christian Kastrup, a biomedical engineer at the University of British Columbia.
“It’s similar to when a grenade goes off and fragments go in all directions,” Kastrup continued, using an apropos metaphor.
In initial tests, which so far have only been performed on pigs and mice, the fizzy tincture was shown to propel the chemicals deep into the tissue, all the way to the damaged internal blood vessels feeding the wound. By clotting so deep into the lesion, the clot was shown to be more stable.
Right now the fizzing agent is a bit messy. While chemicals do get deeper into the wound, they pop off in every other direction too. Eventually researchers hope to make the delivery process more efficient, however, using an endoscope.
The advance could be a legitimate lifesaver, not just for soldiers, but also for victims of all varieties of disasters. Paramedics equipped with these fizzy bandages could prolong the lives of patients during transit to the hospital, for instance.