Thursday, May 24, 2012

Miracle Sponge May Save Lives On Battlefield


Uncontrolled bleeding has been the leading cause of death for soldiers on the battlefield. But the engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology may have come up with a way to stop bleeding instantly with a special sponge.

The technology could be so effective, it may end up in hospitals and home medicine cabinets, experts said.

MIT engineers at the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies came up with ways to protect and heal soldiers on the battlefield. Their newest invention is a sponge that stops bleeding instantaneously.

"When we have a very heavy wound or a large amount of bleeding, we need to stop the bleeding immediately," said Dr. Paula Hammond. "We've been able to develop this sponge which can fit any kind of surface or wound and can be applied very rapidly."

Unlike regular sponges that absorb moisture, the lightweight sponge is coated with the protein thrombine -- a natural clotting agent already found in our bodies and combines it with tanic acids.

"What we're doing is actually releasing the thrombine in its active form immediately and allowing it to access the wound. It stops the bleeding within seconds," Hammond said.

Hammond said the nanotechnology is inexpensive to produce which could make it ideal for everyday use.

"First responders, emergency care rooms -- everything from something you might store in your bathroom or kitchen, to something you would use for extreme conditions," Hammond said.

"Many of the lessons we take to the operating room here for traumatized patients, we learned on the battlefield," said Dr. David King, a trauma surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital.

King, who is also a major in the Army Reserve, said the sponge technology is exciting.

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