New injectable clotting agent reduces blood loss, internal bleeding by 97%

Blood loss due to extreme injuries is a leading cause of death on the front lines, car accidents, etc. It is literally a race against time, taking a trauma victim to a hospital as fast as possible. Though compression can slow down external blood loss, there is no effective way to stop internal bleeding at a scene of an accident.

Internal bleeding can be treated at a hospital with the transfusion of clotting agents, but they cannot be carried in an ambulance or transported easily. These clotting agents require careful control, storage, and refrigeration. Many people that die due to hemorrhages (internal bleeding) can be treated in a hospital, but have no time to get there.

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However, researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), in collaboration with Massachusetts General Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Case Western Reserve University, might have found the solution. They have published new research in Science Advances that details an injectable clotting agent that reduced blood loss by 97% in mice models, MedicalXpress reports.

The agent is freeze-dried and physically appears to be like cotton candy. It can apparently be stored at room temperature for “several months” and reconstituted in saline before injection.

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Samir Mitragotri, Hiller Professor of Bioengineering and Hansjorg Wyss Professor of Biologically Inspired Engineering at SEAS and senior author of the study said: “Our goal was to give first responders a tool to stop internal bleeding that could be easily carried in a backpack or stored in an ambulance and, once injected intravenously in hemorrhagic patients, stop internal bleeding for a period long enough to get the patient to a hospital.”

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The revolutionary new agent contains Hemostatic Agents via Polymer Peptide Interfusion (HAPPI), which is a new polymer-peptide developed by Mitragotri and his team. HAPPI hinds to activated platelets when a blood vessel is injured and enhances the accumulation of the platelets at the site of injury. HAPPI can be injected anywhere in the body and still find its way to the site of injury.

It was observed that HAPPI significantly brought down bleeding time and blood loss volume. About 99 percent reduction in bleeding time and 97 percent reduction in blood loss volume was observed. The median survival rate also was significantly higher than 1 hour, a win for first responders.

Yongsheng Gao, a postdoctoral research associate at SEAS and the co-first author of the paper, said: “A lot of trauma-related deaths happen within the first hour when blood loss is happening profusely and there is no intervention. A key objective for first responders is to keep trauma patients alive during this so-called golden hour and in that time bring them to a hospital because once they get to the hospital, it’s a different game altogether.”

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Apoorva Sarode, a former graduate student at SEAS and the co-first author of the study, said: “With HAPPI, we sought to develop a safe and effective internal bandage. We think that the simple design and scalable synthesis process of HAPPI will facilitate its seamless scale-up and translation to larger animal models, and eventually to the patients.”

The researchers will move forward with testing the agent in animal models and attempt to scale up production. The funding for the research was provided by Harvard’s Blavatnik Biomedical Accelerator. The Office of Technology Department at Harvard has already protected the IP for this discovery and is looking at commercial opportunities.

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