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The multifunctional nanocomposite hydrogels could be used as an injectable hemostat for penetrating injury and percutaneous intervention during surgery. (Credit: Acta Biomaterialia)

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 have successfully fabricated an injectable bandage to stop bleeding and promote wound healing. The researchers use 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.

The study uses a commonly used 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.

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