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UBC researchers develop powder that stops the bleeding

Researchers at the University of British Columbia say they’ve developed a medication that can travel against the flow of blood to stop bleeding at its source.

Bleeding is a major cause of preventable deaths among trauma victims. There is also postpartum hemorrhaging, a complication of childbirth that is a leading cause of maternal mortality, especially in developing nations.

“It’s very difficult, especially in surgical scenarios or in situations of major bleeding where blood is just pouring out of a patient and you don’t know where it’s coming from,” said James Baylis of UBC’s Michael Smith Laboratory.

Researchers are hoping to stem the tide through new technology. They wanted their discovery to be affordable and easy to use so it can benefit everyone.

“What we came up with are these self-propelling particles,” said Baylis. “You put them in liquid and they just foam and propel and they bubble and they go absolutely everywhere.”

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Their discovery uses calcium carbonate that forms into tiny gas-producing spheres.

“We found that when you load them with the proper pro-coagulant then you can apply it to the site of bleeding and it stops it right away. You don’t even need to know where the site of bleeding is. It doesn’t even matter how severe the bleeding is.”

Unlike current therapies, the powder would be affordable. It also wouldn’t require refrigeration, or a physician to administer them, essential qualities if it is to be used to treat new mothers in the developing world.

“We’re designing this so it can be applied directly to the uterus by a birthing attendant, midwife, any nurse or anyone else who is around,” said Baylis.

So far their discovery has proven to be safe and effective. Even so, it will be several years before it can prove itself in clinical trials.

-With files from Linda Aylesworth

UBC

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