If you’ve played Mass Effect, you’ve probably been thankful for Medi-Gel and its ability to save your Commander Shepard. Wouldn’t it be nice to have something similar in real life? NYU student Joe Landolina is now seeking FDA approval for Veti-Gel, which may as well be renamed Medi-Gel as far as we’re concerned. As seen in the video below (probably NSFW due to gore), this stuff seems to instantly form a barrier on deep wounds.
Similar blood-loss-reducing products, like QuikClot, have been around for years, but this one works differently (and arguably better). Current clotting products, albeit awesome, require up to three minutes of applying pressure, which allows further blood loss and delays medics who could be performing other lifesaving measures. Veti-Gel seals wounds quicker via a different mechanism.
“In all of our tests we found we were able to immediately stop bleeding,” says Landolina. “Your skin has this thing called the extracellular matrix,” he explains. “It’s kind of a mesh of molecules and sugars and protein that holds your cells in place.” Landolina synthesises his own extracellular matrix (ECM) using plant polymers, which can form a liquid when broken up into pieces. He says, “So it goes into the wound and the pieces of the synthetic ECM in the gel will recognize the pieces of the real ECM in the wound and they’ll link together. It will re-assemble into something that looks like, feels like and acts like skin.” [Humans Invent via Boing Boing]
Landolina claims that the Veti-Gel works in three ways. It purportedly acts as a tissue adhesive without needing to apply pressure. It may also attract platelet cells to improve healing. Most importantly, it activates Factor XII, which then activates Factor XI which triggers the formation of a fibrin clot. To put that last sentence in layman’s terms, “It coagulate good.”
Besides talking with DARPA about using Veti-Gel on the battlefield, Landolina also suggests it could be used during surgeries, sold commercially as a liquid bandage, and used in nursing homes for bedsores. We just have to wonder if the synthetic ECM can get into the bloodstream and if that’s safe. The FDA hasn’t weighed in yet. In the meantime, here’s a possibly NSFW demonstration video. For some reason, I’m still skeptical. If it really works this quickly, and safely, it’s bloody well awesome.