Houston: A team of scientists, including one of Indian-origin, have developed an ‘injectable bandage’ – a therapeutic gel that can heal potentially fatal internal injuries. A penetrating injury from shrapnel is a serious obstacle in overcoming battlefield wounds that can ultimately lead to death. Given the high mortality rates due to hemorrhaging, there is an unmet need to quickly self-administer materials that prevent fatality due to excessive blood loss. With a gelling agent commonly used in preparing pastries, researchers from the Texas A&M University in the US have successfully fabricated an injectable bandage to stop bleeding and promote wound healing. Researchers used kappa-carrageenan and nanosilicates to form injectable hydrogels to promote hemostasis (the process to stop bleeding) and facilitate wound healing via a controlled release of therapeutics. “Injectable hydrogels are promising materials for achieving hemostasis in case of internal injuries and bleeding, as these biomaterials can be introduced into a wound site using minimally invasive approaches,” said Akhilesh K Gaharwar, assistant professor at Texas A&M University. “An ideal injectable bandage should solidify after injection in the wound area and promote a natural clotting cascade. In addition, the injectable bandage should initiate wound healing response after achieving hemostasis,” said Gaharwar. The study, published in the journal Acta Biomaterialia, uses a common thickening agent known as kappa-carrageenan, obtained from seaweed, to design injectable hydrogels. Hydrogels are a 3D water swollen polymer network, similar to Jell-O, simulating the structure of human tissues. When kappa-carrageenan is mixed with clay-based nanoparticles, injectable gelatin is obtained. The charged characteristics of clay-based nanoparticles provide hemostatic ability to the hydrogels. Specifically, plasma protein and platelets form blood adsorption on the gel surface and trigger a blood clotting cascade. “Interestingly, we also found that these injectable bandages can show a prolonged release of therapeutics that can be used to heal the wound” said Giriraj Lokhande, a graduate student in Gaharwar’s lab.