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Protein Gel Quickly Stops Bleeding 167

Stefan vd Linden writes, "An international team of scientists has discovered a substance to heal bleeding wounds within seconds. They're using a solution of protein molecules that self-organizes into a biodegradable gel. Until now they've only tested it on animals, but the tests were highly successful. From the article: 'Some surgeons are already excited about the material. "I see great potential in the eye field, the gastro-intestinal field, and in neurosurgery," says Dimitri Azar, head of ophthalmology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, US. "In the eye, even a drop of blood will blur your vision for a long time," Azar adds. "A material that would stop the bleeding could lead to a paradigm shift in how we practice surgery in the eye."'"
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Protein Gel Quickly Stops Bleeding

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  • by csoto ( 220540 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2006 @05:42PM (#16384223)
    It's called platelets. It was invented long ago. Thank goodness, or I would have died the first time my nose bled...
    • It's called platelets. It was invented long ago. Thank goodness, or I would have died the first time my nose bled...

      Platelets are fine for small wounds, but they don't do much for larger than a small cut. For external cuts I usually stick it together with a little superglue. I don't expect this will be over the counter though..

      in case of massive fragging mix contents with one cup of tea and drink really fast!

      • by russ1337 ( 938915 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2006 @05:52PM (#16384373)
        This reminds me of when I was watching the cannon run on the Edinburgh tattoo a few years ago. One of the soldiers got hit on his head (#1 haircut), and cut quite badly. A medic ran out with a thing that looked like a staple gun, sprayed it with 'numbing spray', stapled the wound closed with about three staples, then wiped some kind of gel/wax on it. The guy looked a little sore, but he wasn't bleeding and his wound was closed enough that he could carry on. - all in about 10 seconds.
        • by nizo ( 81281 ) * on Tuesday October 10, 2006 @07:18PM (#16385319) Homepage Journal
          How about packing helmets/vests/etc with a layer of this stuff for things that get through? I for one would prefer that the padding in a helmet be filled with this rather than plain ol' squishy gel.
          • You know what's going to happen next - stick it in hypodermic darts and shoot them at the enemies - all they'll hear is "phttt" ... and then die of massive blood clots.

            Or stick it in an insulin pen (empty out the penfill cartridge and replace the contents with this gel) and stick someone with it - great for hits on foreign dictators and other "inconveniences".

            Guaranteed this will be weaponized - and then only the government and terrorists will have it.

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by Nulagrithom ( 998099 )
              Guaranteed this will be weaponized - and then only the government and terrorists will have it.
              Except for not. Why would this be "weapon" be any better than a fine dose of arsenic, or even just pipe cleaner or something nasty? Or just a bullet, those are cheap. I don't really see weapon potential here that surpasses anything already created...
              • Simple, it can be used without the victim even being aware of it.

                I could probably stick you in a crowd and if you even felt it you'd assume it was a minor insect bite or something (30 gauge needles are pretty much painless for a subcutaneous injection, and I get to practice my technique 3 times a day).

            • OR... you could simply shoot the guy with an old-fashioned, cheap 7.62x51mm bullet. I guarantee that if you can hit the dude with a hypodermic dart, you can hit the dude just as well with the high-velocity rifle round. It's not as nerdy, and the results are messier, but the aerodynamics will favor the bullet at any range. Also, I'm not aware of the armor-piercing qualities of a hypodermic dart, but I'm guessing it's a lot less capable of penetrating even a basic flak jacket than the supersonic rifle roun
              • Which is more likely to succeed in a large crowd:

                1. Brush up against person
                2. Stick them with a 30 gauge needle
                3. Walk away (if they even felt it, they'd assume it was an insect bite) and they die hours or days (or even years if you use a slow virus like HIV) later

                ... or ...

                1. Shoot and alert everyone to your presence
                2. Hope you don't get caught, your bullets traced, etc.

                Besides, you're much less likely to "get your kill" at extreme range with a rifle, and guaranteed to get it at close range with a hypo.

                • by Gulthek ( 12570 )
                  I will state absolutely with no possibility of error that YANAH (You Are Not A Hit(man/woman/person)).
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by sandwiches ( 801015 )
            That idea kinda reminds me of what they used to line the fuel tanks of some of the larger bombers in WW2. A rubber that when it came into contact with the fuel would swell and harden. So, if a bullet hit it, it would self seal.
      • by symes ( 835608 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2006 @06:45PM (#16384907) Journal
        Indeed - superglue was invented to close wounds [] and is still used in hospitals around the world
      • You know, in that same vein! ( :( ) there is a product called Thrombin JMI [], which is recombinant bovine thrombin (aka activated [] Factor II. It is a spray that will aid in blood clotting. But this again is for small oozy/capillary type bleeding.
    • Shame Hemophiliacs don't have those.
      • Correction: I think hemophiliacs do have those, it's a different substance they don't have. I'm a little rusty with my genetic disorders. Rooked_One, if you could correct me on this, that'd be great.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by gomiam ( 587421 )
          There's several different kinds of hemophilia. Besides the genetic caused ones (usually platelets will be scarce, nonfunctional or both), lack of certain elements in food intake (see vitamin K []) will affect bleeding.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by ToreTS ( 811203 ) *
          Hemophilia can be caused by a lack of several proteins that take part in the clotting cascade, but the substance usually responsible is factor VIII [].
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by lockholm ( 703003 )
        But they do have them. The real problem in hemophilia is with clotting factors, associated proteins that bind the platelets together and stick them in place, rather than a lack of platelets.
    • Well, unless my Google search fails me (no, I'm not a native English speaker, and I didn't know what platelets are), platelets are cells. As such, calling them "protein gel" is quite a stretch, since there happens to be more than proteins inside them. Besides, the idea is to stop bleeding quickly, and platelets aren't that fast.
    • Its called Bacta. It was invented a long time ago, in a galaxy far far away. Wars_substances []
    • by pilgrim23 ( 716938 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2006 @06:24PM (#16384701)
      Sometime in pre-history, it was noticed that many things like; dried marigold petals and spider web staunches blood. It was common practice to bleed patients at one time, and when the leech was removed, spider web was used as a poltice. I have personally used spider web on cuts, and it stops the flow in seconds. I should have applied for a research grant dang it!
  • protein gel (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 10, 2006 @05:42PM (#16384225)
    I make my own protein gel.
  • Finally... (Score:4, Funny)

    by ackthpt ( 218170 ) * on Tuesday October 10, 2006 @05:42PM (#16384231) Homepage Journal
    An alternative to ingesting krazy glue!
  • as a hemophiliac (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rooked_One ( 591287 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2006 @05:44PM (#16384247) Journal
    this would be great... if I cut myself shaving its a real pain in the ass... I have to doctor myself for a good hour to get some litle nicks to stop. My shots to stop bleeding cost around 1,000 bucks a pop, so its not like I can just give myself a shot for a minor nick - granted this won't help with joint bleeds, but hey, as long as they don't charge an arm and a leg for the stuff, i'll be happy.

    Now if I could just rub it on the skin to stop joint and muscle bleeds... wow... a gift from heaven?
    • by s388 ( 910768 )
      "hey, as long as they don't charge an arm and a leg for the stuff, i'll be happy."

      I'm afraid things aren't looking up for you.
    • by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2006 @05:59PM (#16384459)
      if I cut myself shaving its a real pain in the ass... I have to doctor myself for a good hour to get some litle nicks to stop. My shots to stop bleeding cost around 1,000 bucks a pop...

      Consider an electric razor...

      • Or Laser hair removal... Seriously... Its only $1700 for your face.
        • I wondered about that. Are people happy with that long term?

          I'd be weary of anything that changes my body permanently, aesthically. (Plus I often wondered if beard hair stops facial skin from creasing.... it's hard to explain...)
          • by arose ( 644256 )
            I'd be weary of anything that changes my body permanently, aesthically.
            Growing up and aging, or in short: life?
            • I'm weary of that too:) I don't think it has to be a part of life, well, not past 20 anyway.

              I looked up laser hair removal. A dermatologist doesn't necessarily recommend it for all men, because shaving exfoliates the skin daily (or however much you do it), making you age slightly less. Of course, you could exfoliate the skin another way..... (but then that becomes a routine that can be quickly forgotten).
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tacokill ( 531275 )
      Since you are a hemophiliac, I'd like to know if you can use a styptic pencil [] in this situation?

      I am not quite sure how it works but I was curious because I used one successfully on a fairly major leg wound -- and it worked like a charm. It hurt like hell but it DID stop the bleeding, eventually.

      (sidenote: I was in a pinch and didn't have other options at my disposal)
      • Re:as a hemophiliac (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Rooked_One ( 591287 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2006 @06:12PM (#16384589) Journal
        yah, i try to use styptic pencils but they just mostly sting more than do anything helpful. Yet another downer. The really sad thing is that the pharmco's are making so much cash off the few of us (i think the ratio is 1:10,000) but do you ever see any charity jars in your local stop and shop for hemophiliacs?

        I'm not going for a sob story, i've long ago made peace with my situation and the lovely hep C that was given to me by Bayer when they were so kind as to make 'the newest, latest and greatest' product back in '88 or so that eliminated long stays in the hospital while bags of plasma were injected. Instead, you just mixed up a batch of freeze dried factor IIX that came from *dubious* sources.

        Sorry to get off topic there... I havn't made peace with Bayer for that.
        • by geekoid ( 135745 )
          Maybe you should start a non profit and put some jars around town?

          Almost all those orginization were started in that fashion.

          I had always the hemophilia was rarer then that, so at least I learned something.

        • I'm sorry to hear that. I'm curious, though...

          that came from *dubious* sources.

          Who is not "dubious"? Church-going Catholics? Mormons? Televangelists? Married businessmen? Prisoners in solitary confinement?

          Sorry to get off topic there... I havn't made peace with Bayer for that.

          Were they sloppy, or were good tests available already? AFAIK, the blood supply only started getting tested in the 1990's, and even then there has been a problem with a window period.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Rooked_One ( 591287 )
            there were no tests, but they could have NOT taken blood from prisoners with the same needles, then concentrated it down.... I'm just thanking whatever god is out there that I didn't get HIV... My doctor when I was very young suggested a treatment that would have given me AIDS 100% chance. Luckily my mother had done her research enough to know it wasn't safe enough yet. I think I got the medicine that infected me (monoclate-p) after they developed the HVC test, but i'm really not quite sure. Frankly,
        • by Peyna ( 14792 )
          The incident rate for Hemophilia is about 1:16,666. A more common, similar disease is von Willebrand disease; which affects about 1:150 people.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward
          My heart bleeds for you...

          C'mon, you were all thinking it, somebody had to say it!
        • I don't know if it'd do anything for you, but whenever I incur a deep cut, I apply some DMSO [] as soon as I can. DMSO is known to speed wound healing, and prevent scar formation.

          I once stood up from a chair into the corner of an open cabinet door. I could feel the blood pooling on my forehead, so I went to a nearby mirror. "That's going to leave a nice scar." I put some DMSO on a cotton pad (organic, because cotton crops get a lot of pesticides...) and applied it to my forehead. It burned a bit, but this
      • by awol ( 98751 )
        I think the active ingredient in Styptics is the same as the active ingredient in some (many) anti-perspirants (not deoderants, must be anti-perspirant). Aluminium Sulphate. Not being a regular mistake maker in the shaving department, I never have the sticks around but my AP does have Aluminium Sulphate as the active ingredient and it does seem to help (stings like a muthafscka as well).
    • I'm kinda curious, does styptic not work for you? (just for your razor burn I mean)
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 10, 2006 @06:33PM (#16384787)
      if I cut myself shaving its a real pain in the ass

      Most people use the razor on their faces.

    • Your name isn't Michael Weston [] by any chance?
    • if I cut myself shaving its a real pain in the ass

      I sympathize with you and your problem, and I hope this scientific advance really benefits you.

      But there's only one thing I don't underestand: Why do you shave your ass?

    • by lelitsch ( 31136 )
      Did you ever try QR Powder []?
    • by syousef ( 465911 )
      In your position, I'd just grow a beard. The last thing you need to do is bring a razor as close as possible to your skin once every day or so.

  • Protein Gel? (Score:2, Redundant)

    by Quaoar ( 614366 )
    I already make plenty of that myself, thanks.
  • What do you do if you have bleeding from the lungs? Apply a tourniquet on the neck...
  • I hope this can help people with macular degeneration of their eyes.

    And as I read elsewhere last night - don't invest in the gauze bandage industry now.
  • But... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by steveo777 ( 183629 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2006 @05:54PM (#16384399) Homepage Journal
    I read TFA. Doesn't say much about what happens besides that it stops bleeding.

    Does this mean it will make a way for blood to flow in an artery? Or does it just get in the way?
    Does it make room for healing cells? TFA says it doesn't interfere, but does it get out of the way when the body starts to heal?
    Could something be added to 'nourish' the or promote more healing cells?

    Does it promote healing or just act like a mega-bandage?

    Don't get me wrong, I think it'd be great to throw this stuff in a first aid kit so you could just glop it on if you get a gash while out hiking or hunting. They could be the first real 'med-packs' like in them 'video games'.

    • Of course I didn't RTFA because that's cheating. It causes coagulation of the blood. Good on the outside, but you probably would not want any of this stuff to get inside your circulatory system and cause all your blood to change to jello.

    • Re:But... (Score:5, Informative)

      by reverseengineer ( 580922 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2006 @07:26PM (#16385417)
      The journal article doesn't seem to be up on the site for Nanomedicine yet, but the same group's prior research [] on protein scaffolds (also referenced in the news article) may provide some answers.

      The proteins they use are structurally very similar to natural silk, which is composed of proteins arranged primarily in a beta-sheet conformation. This conformation lines up strands of amino acids in a rough plane and cross-links them, usually with hydrogen bonds, but sometimes with ionic attractions or hydrophobic interactions.

      The use of spider silk for clotting wounds has been known since ancient times; coagulation basically requires the onsite formation of a sticky, fibrous protein mess, and spider silk is almost completely sticky, fibrous protein (and unlike many similar foreign substances, doesn't provoke a dangerous immune reaction). This protein gel is basically the same sort of thing, but with the neat added trick that the cross-links are the result of ionic interactions, so that you could have an anhydrous powder of this stuff that you sprinkle onto a wound, and when it contacts electrolyte-rich bodily fluid (their paper on peptide nanofiber nerve scaffold notes it only requires normal physiological concentrations of salt, like those in saline or spinal fluid- from the news article, that's not especially clear), it turns to a fibrous gel.

      As far as whether it promotes healing, interestingly enough, clotting itself promotes healing- the clot itself stimulates the cells in charge of repair- really, the sooner a stable clot is formed, the sooner your own cells can start fixing the damage. In the neural scaffold paper, the group also points out that, being composed of just the same amino acids ubiquitous in the body, the scaffold can be safely broken down to amino acids and then metabolized or excreted; I would imagine the same would be possible for the clotting gel when it is no longer needed.

  • by count0 ( 28810 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2006 @05:56PM (#16384433)
    There's a company called HemCon [] that makes a chitosan bandage [] - it's a protein gel bandage made from chitosan extracted from shrimp shells. The US Army currently uses it in Iraq & Afghanistan.
  • by Marxist Hacker 42 ( 638312 ) * <> on Tuesday October 10, 2006 @05:58PM (#16384441) Homepage Journal
    A large percentage (which I don't have the time to look up right now) of battlefield deaths are really bleeding to death, not instantaneous. To this end, soldiers carry "Quckclot", a powder that is similar to this product- similar but not the same. This seems to work faster- and would save lives on the battlefield.
  • I see great potential in the eye field...

    ...and feel it will be useful on the tactile field, too. *ducks*

    Btw, the doctor's last name (Azar) means "randomness"

  • Step 1: Slather thyself in protein gel.
    Step 2: Storm the castle.
    Step 3: ...uh, that's all.
  • Being an animal-lovin'-tree-huggin'-hippie, I have to wonder: how did they get them to bleed?

    Guess all is fair in love and wa^H^Hscience.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by geekoid ( 135745 )
      probably by giving them wounds. why do you ask?

      oh wait, you thought you were making some point in a clever way.
      You didn't
    • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2006 @06:15PM (#16384615) Homepage
      Geeze, you sure do have a cynical view of scientists. They love animals just as much as you do!

      In the study, they only used animals with emotional problems who would cut themselves. They would watch the animals, and after the animal would cut themselves, they'd apply the protein gel. While they were studying the healing of the wound, another team of scientists who are conducting experimental depression therapy would treat the animals to stop them from cutting themselves any more. Both humans and animals benefit!

      Also, I have it on good authority that rabbits actually enjoy having mascara smearing into their eyes, and were quite upset when they discovered certain humans were trying to stop the practice.
      • Are we talking Emo rats? Wow. I thought the disease only existed in humans, but if it exists in nature as well, we've got a serious problem on our hands.
  • Using polymers to close up wounds isn't exactly new. Run-of-the mill superglue was commonly used during the Vietnam War [] to seal life-threatening wounds on the battlefield, but it was never FDA approved. Because it can be a severe irritant, you shouldn't be using superglue you buy at Home Depot unless you're bleeding to death in the middle of nowhere. You can, however, buy special medical superglues. Some of them are even over-the-counter.
  • I bet you could also tailor this substance to repair things like embolisms that burst, aortic disections, etc. Of course it would mean getting into surgery immediately but more people bleed out at the hospital than anywhere else.
  • by 10100111001 ( 931992 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2006 @06:25PM (#16384705)
    As a potential solution to rising gun fatalities, maybe we could use it to coat bullets.
    • That's not such a bad idea... but: Put small packs of this stuff as the last layer in your bulletproof vest. If something gets through, it'll spread the gel around.
  • by Ichijo ( 607641 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2006 @06:34PM (#16384797) Journal
    According to the title the gel quickly stops bleeding, but I think it would be better if it didn't bleed in the first place.

    So I think I'll wait for version 2.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Fordiman ( 689627 )
      Do they sell a protein gel that *never* stops bleeding?

      If so, I'll make a house out of it and sell it to Glen Danzig.
  • by ArcherB ( 796902 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2006 @06:50PM (#16384977) Journal
    She bleeds all the time! Maybe this will help with that "not so fresh feeling".
  • "A material that would stop the bleeding could lead to a paradigm shift in how we practice surgery in the eye."'"

    Quick, leverage the synergy!

  • by The-Bus ( 138060 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2006 @07:01PM (#16385103)
    A few weeks ago, I was talking about Trauma Center for the Nintendo DS [] with a friend of mine. In the game, you play a doctor who operates on patients, removing tumors with your stylus, sewing them back up, etc. My friend's girlfriend is in med school currently and says that all the basic procedures are accurate enough, with the exception of one: a gel you apply to stop bleeding. I guess that's not true anymore.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    All bleeding stops one way or another no matter how bad it is....
  • Oh noes!! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by IlliniECE ( 970260 )
    I was really enjoying the article blurb going 'oh right! Awesome!' to myself until I read "paradigm shift"... Not even the best technology can overcome the power of a cliche.
  • by Hahnsoo ( 976162 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2006 @10:26PM (#16387117)
    Here is the original press release: []
    Not much new information here, but it's nice to read things that come "straight from the horse's mouth", so to speak.
    Of real consequence is the main researcher's lab website: []
    It is chock full of interesting research on self-assembling peptides, including what substances they've been trying, and the eternally-asked question, Can I run my laptop off of spinach? [](They isolated the chloroplast/photosystem of spinach, and hope to use it for photovoltaic purposes).
    As far as discussion, most of the application has been suggested in the field of delicate microsurgery. Why not band-aids for the masses? Most likely due to the cost. Aside from the financial barriers in bringing an idea to mass-market, especially in the medical field, imagine trying to keep the candidate liquid substance stable for storage, to be used at a moment's notice; if it self-assembles easily, then it can "gel up" just as easily, too. This is combined with the fact that there are already several fairly effective ways to stop the typical cuts-and-scrapes of a household, from regular band-aids and gauze to liquid bandages (which quickly seals off a wound and prevents bleeding, in about the same amount of time). The real application would be in situations where regular hemostasis measures cannot be used or are undesirable. Again, this goes back to microsurgery. In most surgery, hemostasis is achieved by either tying off the bleeding vessel with suture, cauterizing the end of the vessel with a Bovey (an electrical tool used for cutting and cauterizing) or a laser, or simply clamping the vessel with a hemostat. There are other methods, but those are the most common ones in routine surgery. Clamping the vessel is not practical in confined spaces (the hemostat takes up space), cautery can't be used in all situations, and you can't always tie off the bleeder. The self-assembling gel described would be a boon in those surgical situations, another "arrow in the quiver", so to speak. The aforementioned application in patients with hemophilia is also plausible, if less certain.
    Sadly, the journal that they are publishing in, Nanomedicine [], is fairly brand new and not stocked by my local library yet. There have only been three issues of it so far (June 2006, August 2006, and October 2006) and the latest is not on their website yet. I would really like to read that article in full.
  • Healing (Score:4, Funny)

    by cHALiTO ( 101461 ) <elchalo AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday October 10, 2006 @10:32PM (#16387191) Homepage
    Yay! gotta get some of that stuff, re-bottle it and sell it to thinkgeek as "Potion of Healing Serious Wounds" =P

  • well, i told you... (testing)
  • I could use this while I'm fixing my car.
  • This is definately related: Potato Powder Stops Bleeding, May Help Surgery []

    Who needs "nanogel"? I got a POTATO! Or maybe it's for people one Atkins: proteins over carbs.
  • Someone apply this to HP's phone lines! Well, shoot, wrong kind of leaking.

UNIX enhancements aren't.