Texas A&M has a storied history of supporting American troops, a dedication that stretches from the battlefields, into our research laboratories, and sometimes back onto the battlefield. Recently, researchers at Texas A&M developed a way of promoting faster healing from shrapnel wounds, something that is sorely needed in ground warfare.
As weapons are developed at a faster rate than ever before and injuries from explosives are rising steadily, methods to treat these wounds are struggling to keep up with this pace. When someone is hit by shrapnel, the external injury is often serious, but internal bleeding can be fatal. Current methods of treating these wounds such as tourniquets and traditional bandages can aggravate existing internal injuries, doing more harm than good.
That’s why Dr. Akhilesh Gahawar, assistant professor at the Texas A&M Department of Biomedical Engineering, answered this call of duty. He, along with a team of researchers and scientists at the Nanomaterials and Tissue Engineering Laboratory, have developed an injectable bandage that has shown the ability to stop bleeding in three minutes by conforming to the shape of the injury. This bandage can be self-administered in high-stress combat situations and has the potential to save countless lives on the battlefield.
The bandage utilizes a thickening agent that is obtained from seaweed to make hydrogels that mimic human tissue. This natural solution is then mixed with clay-based nanoparticles to create an injectable gelatin, and medicinal therapeutics can be added to speed along the healing process.
“Injectable hydrogels are promising materials for achieving hemostasis in case of internal injuries and bleeding, as these biomaterials can be introduced into a wound site using minimally invasive approaches,” Gaharwar said. “An ideal injectable bandage should solidify after injection in the wound area and promote a natural clotting cascade. In addition, the injectable bandage should initiate wound healing response after achieving hemostasis.”
This technology is capable of stopping injuries from becoming fatal on the battlefield, but that’s not the only application for this technology. Having the ability to administer injectable bandages on-site could save many victims of domestic gun violence.
“Interestingly, we also found that these injectable bandages can show a prolonged release of therapeutics that can be used to heal the wound,” Giriraj Lokhande, a graduate student in Gaharwar’s lab, said. “The negative surface charge of nanoparticles enabled electrostatic interactions with therapeutics thus resulting in the slow release of therapeutics.”
This groundbreaking research is funded by the National Science Foundation’s Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport Systems Division and the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. And the research is helping to prove that Aggies are committed to making injuries less lethal and getting soldiers back on the road to recovery.
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