In dire situations, stopping excessive bleeding could mean the difference between life and death. Although there are many existing methods for controlling external bleeding, only surgery can halt internal blood loss.

New research from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) could change the way we deal with this situation.

Nanoparticles (green) help form clots in an injured liver. Credit: Erin Lavik, Ph.D.

The UMBC researchers aim to reduce patients' trauma resulting from blood loss by using injectable nanoparticles that speed up the blood clotting process, either internally or externally.

The process involves the addition of a molecule (to the nanoparticles) capable of sticking to a glycoprotein found only on activated platelets. Then, the nanoparticles will bind to the activated plateletsacting as a bridgehelping the glycoprotein and platelets join together to form clots.

After achieving a 50% reduction in bleeding time for rodents, Lavik's team tested the method on pig's blood. The researchers were forced to tweak their nanoparticle storage solution, adding a slippery polymer to keep the nanoparticles from sticking to each other, after the method triggered an immune response.

The next challenge: human blood, and additional research to be sure any unwanted clotting doesn't occur. Still, a future where we can quickly stop internal bleeding, doesn't seem too far off.

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