Scientists have come up with something pretty neat, and it’s showing promise as a more effective wound treatment than bandages or tourniquets. A new sprayable foam — which comes out like whipped cream onto a gaping cut or wound then solidifies over it — could prevent significant blood loss in trauma patients.

A research team out of the University of Maryland published their study in ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering, testing their process out on pigs. The foam is sprayed over a wound, where it doubles in size then turns solid, building a wall that prevents more blood from coming out. Then, in what is perhaps one of the more ground-breaking aspects of the technique, the foam interacts with blood cells, making them cluster together and gel up so they also serve as a barrier.

“In this initial study, we demonstrate that a sprayable polymer-based foam can be effective at treating bleeding from soft tissue without the need for compression,” the authors write. “When the foam is sprayed into an open cavity created by injury, it expands and forms a self-supporting barrier that counteracts the expulsion of blood from the cavity.”

The researchers go on to state that they used amphiphilic biopolymer and hydrophobically modified chitosan (hmC) as materials to create the foam, which helped cluster blood cells together through hydrophobic interactions — ultimately keeping the wound from bleeding. When it was tested out on pig wounds that were “untreatable” due to their location, those injuries lost 90 percent less blood than the ones that weren’t treated.

This is especially valuable since loss of blood from trauma is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. — primarily for people under the age of 44. Because of the exciting results, the researchers hope to move more research further and test it out on humans clinically.

Source: Dowling M, MacIntire I, White J, Narayan M, Duggan M, King D. Sprayable Foams Based on an Amphiphilic Biopolymer for Control of Hemorrhage Without Compression. ACDS Biomaterials Science & Engineering, 2015.

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