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New patch stops haemorrhaging

Posted on the 30th January 2023

Accident Scene

A revolutionary new microneedle skin patch can stop uncontrolled bleeding following traumatic injuries.

The patch uses haemostatic microneedle arrays (MNAs), or minimally invasive needles which penetrate the skin, to attract platelets and promote rapid blood clotting.

The man behind the breakthrough, Amir Sheikhi, an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Penn State University, is optimistic that his novel medical device could lead to better patient outcomes in medical emergencies where time is of the essence.

MNAs are already employed in medical and cosmetic procedures to deliver biologics, including cells and drugs, through the skin. They are tiny and their application is pain-free.

The biodegradable needles also render the patch more adhesive, which facilitates wound closure by way of mechanical interlocking.

In a paper published in Bioactive Materials, Dr Sheikhi explains: "In vitro, the engineered MNAs reduced clotting time from 11.5 minutes to 1.3 minutes; and in a rat liver bleeding model, they reduced bleeding by more than 90 per cent.

“Those 10 minutes could be the difference between life and death."

Hydrogel technology has largely replaced staples and sutures in the treatment of bleeding wounds in hospitals, but this requires advanced preparation and medical expertise.

The new plaster, however, is pre-engineered for immediate application like an over-the-counter adhesive bandage, making life-saving medical interventions quicker and more accessible.

Dr Sheikhi has received financial support from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and is now focused on further testing his technology.

Blood loss after injury accounts for over half of the five million traumatic deaths that occur every year. Severe traumatic bleeding often arises from injury, sickness or surgery, and can result in hypothermia, organ failure, and hemorrhagic shock.

Exsanguination, or excessive blood loss, can take lives within five minutes, meaning that the rapid prevention of post-injury bleeding is crucial in limiting fatalities.

Related story: Lab-grown blood used in clinical trial

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