'Designer' blood clots to treat soldiers

“Designer” blood clots induced through artificial platelets can treat soldiers wounded in battlefield, helping them control bleeding and setting the right course for healing.

The platelets laced with regulatory chemicals could be included in an injector device the size of a smartphone. Formation of “designer” blood clots from the artificial platelets would be triggered by the same factor that initiates the body’s natural clotting processes.

In animal models, the synthetic platelets reduced clotting time by approximately 30 per cent, though the materials have not yet been tested in humans. “The idea is to have on the battlefield technologies that would deliver a biomaterial capable of finding where the bleeding is happening and augmenting the body’s own clotting processes,” said Thomas Barker, an associate professor in the Wallace H Coulter from Georgia Tech and Emory University. After an injury, the most critical need is to stop the bleeding. But as traumatic injuries heal, they often produce significant scarring that is difficult to treat. Researchers are working on both sides of the problem, developing cell signalling techniques that may head off the formation of scars – as well as techniques for addressing the fibrosis that is often the long-term result.

Beyond helping halt the bleeding, the synthetic platelets would also deliver regulatory chemicals designed to prevent scarring.

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