Synthetic platelets halt blood loss

Researchers at Case Western University have developed synthetic platelets that can potentially be used to halt both internal and external bleeding.

Professor Erin Lavik and her team designed the platelets after learning that combat field medics had only limited means of treating soldiers who suffered internal injuries in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“The military has been phenomenal at developing technology to halt bleeding, but the technology has been effective only on external or compressible injuries,” said Lavik. “This could be a compliment to current therapies.”

Lavik explained that blood platelets are the structural and chemical foundation of blood clotting – a process which is typically effective in managing normal cuts and scrapes. ??

However, serious injuries caused by roadside bombs or car accidents can easily overwhelm the body’s natural blood-clotting process.?? While the use of natural (external) platelets may enhance clotting, they carry the risk of causing serious complications.

Non-synthetic platelets also require refrigeration and have a relatively short shelf life.?? But Lavik’s platelets – which are made from biodegradable polymers – are designed to enhance the body’s natural clotting abilities by linking up with natural platelets at the site of an injury.

The synthetic platelets also have a much longer shelf life and can be safely stored for at least two weeks. ?

The polymers have already been tested on laboratory rat models, whose rate of blood loss slowed significantly after receiving an injection of synthetic platelets.