When a person suffers a severe injury, it is crucial that any bleeding is stopped quickly. While there are many ways to stop external bleeding, current methods for stopping internal bleeding are limited.
Erin Lavik, professor of chemical, biochemical and environmental engineering, developed a nanoparticle that helps the body form blood clots and reduce internal bleeding. During the American Chemical Society’s national meeting, Lavik presented her work and explained how these nanoparticles could save lives.
“Compared to injuries that aren’t treated with the nanoparticles, we can cut the bleeding time in half and reduce total blood loss,” she explained.
Lavik and her team worked to create nanoparticles that attach to activated platelets so that clots can be formed to stop internal bleeding. These nanoparticles were initially developed and tested on rodents, to control bleeding due to brain and spinal cord injuries, but Lavik saw their potential to help people who have suffered a broader range of severe traumas.
After early testing revealed the nanoparticles successfully kept rodents from bleeding out, Lavik wanted to determine how human blood would respond to the presence of the nanoparticles.As a next step, the nanoparticles were tested in pig’s blood, which indicated that the immune system reacted well their presence.
In the future, Lavik and her team will test the nanoparticles in human blood, and will develop tests to fully understand the safety of these nanoparticles. She says they need to understand whether the particles may cause clotting that could lead to stroke before the product can be on the market, although she hopes the nanoparticles will eventually be available for clinical use.
Image: Erin Lavik at TEDxBroadway. Photo by TEDxBroadway, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.