The use of plastics within the medical industry is becoming increasingly popular. We already use plastics for catheters, prosthesis and artificial corneas, not forgetting plastic packaging to store medicine in and plastic pill capsules. Recently, a group of scientists from America have gone one step beyond and have created a potentially pivotal and revolutionary medical prototype that could save soldiers lives on the battlefield.
PolySTAT is administered with a simple injection that stops heavy bleeding and can potentially save thousands of soldier's lives. The injection contains a polymer that strengthens blood clots and finds any unseen or internal injuries, getting to work immediately. The study was originally tested on rats at the University of Washington and found that it saved 100% of the animals with fatal injuries to the femoral artery. Only 20% of rats treated with a natural protein to help blood clots survived.
Scientists have said that the injection could be ready for clinical trials in humans within five years. Most battlefield casualties die before reaching a hospital, with most fatalities caused through uncontrolled bleeding.
Study co-author Dr Nathan White, an assistant professor of emergency medicine, said: "Most of the patients who die from bleeding die quickly. This is something you could potentially put in a syringe inside a backpack and give right away to reduce blood loss and keep people alive long enough to make it to medical care."
Researchers state that the injection could also be used for search and rescue missions as well as car crash victims in rural, isolate locations.
How it Works
PolySTAT and factor XIII (a natural protein that helps strengthen blood clots) strengthen the clot by binding fibrin strands together and adding cross-links that reinforce the natural barrier. However, PolySTAT has found to be more effective in protecting against natural enzymes that dissolve blood clots. These enzymes, which normally help in the healing process, do not target the PolySTAT bonds that have been integrated into the clot, meaning the clot can stay intact in the critical hours after injury.
Researchers also found that PolySTAT should not form clots that could lead to an embolism or stroke due to a highly specific peptide that only binds fibrin at the wound site. It doesn't bind to the fibrin precursor that circulates through the body. Researchers now need to test the injection on larger animals and carry out additional screening to find out if it binds to any other substances unintentionally.
This is a remarkable discovery which highlights the importance and versatility plastic can bring to the medical industry. We hope this becomes a great success and gets the go ahead to be used to help save people's lives.
Coda and Medical Plastic
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