Wednesday, April 28, 2010

IIT-K develops polymer to stop bleeding

Researchers at the Department of Biological Sciences and Bio Engineering of IIT-Kanpur claim to have developed a polymer which when applied to a fresh wound stops bleeding within five seconds. They believe the Natural Polymer Sponge (NPS), which has been developed from a chemical found in crab shells, would revolutionise medical treatment, as excessive bleeding has often been the main cause of fatalities.

“A polymer sponge that can promote haemostasis (the process to prevent the flow of blood from an injured body part) has not been developed anywhere else,” said Ashok Kumar Kaul, Associate Professor in the Bio-Sciences and Bio-Engineering Department. Kaul said the haemostasis creams and ointments available in the market provide only partial relief. “In fact, they are ineffective in controlling bleeding in major injuries,” he added. After conducting animal trials, the IIT-K team is now looking forward for clinical testing of the product and is also planning to apply for a patent.

The NPS is made from a substance called chitin extracted from crab shells at -20 degrees Celsius using “cryogelation technology”. The chitin is modified into another substance called chitosan. “Using dextran and other polysaccharides, chitosan is developed into NPS. The sponge has several pores which have the capacity to absorb large volumes of blood to promote haemostasis,” said Kaul.

The biodegradable NPS is in the form of a 1-mm thin sheet but can be different as per requirement. “We have designed the NPS to have a similar impact in all seasons,” Kaul said, adding that they will look for collaboration with foreign institutes for further tests if required.

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