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"Inside Job" -- The Discovery Files

The Discovery Files
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Biomedical engineers have developed a technology that aims to stop bleeding and control wound healing simply by injecting a gel at the site of an injury. These "injectable bandages" can simulate the structure of human tissues and facilitate healing via a controlled release of therapeutics -- it could save lives on the battlefield by preventing mortality due to hemorrhaging.

Credit: NSF/Karson Productions

Audio Transcript:

Just gellin'

I'm Bob Karson with the Discovery Files -- new advances in science and engineering from the National Science Foundation.

We naturally think of bandaging a wound as an external thing but from a team of researchers at Texas A&M comes a new injectable bandage that does the work inside the body.

The team designed an injectable gelatin similar to Jell-O, using kappa-carrageenan (kerə'ɡēnən) -- a thickener often used in making pastries.

Mixed with synthetic nanoparticles, the gel solidifies after injection and promotes natural clotting -- decreasing clotting time by 77 percent.

(Sound effect: battlefield sounds) Injectable bandages could prevent excessive blood loss in complex internal injuries, such as those sustained from shrapnel on the battlefield. Before an injured soldier can get extensive medical care, life-saving on-site injections could help stabilize multiple internal wounds, and stop bleed-out.

Bonus! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! (Sound effect: game show bell) The team tells us that the nanoparticles' electrical charge causes therapeutics to interact with them creating a slow release that can help heal the wound.

(Sound effect: operating room, heart monitor) The nanoparticles may also open-up a new window for a wide range of other medical uses.

Stop the bleeding, start the healing. If time heals all wounds, injectable bandages may give critically injured patients the time they need.

"The discovery files" covers projects funded by the government's National Science Foundation. Federally sponsored research -- brought to you, by you! Learn more at or on our podcast.

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