VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- Scientists at the University of British Columbia have developed a self-propelled powder capable of delivering coagulants to hard-to-reach severe bleeding sites, like a ruptured uterus or severed aorta.
"Bleeding is the number one killer of young people, and maternal death from postpartum hemorrhage can be as high as one in 50 births in low resource settings so these are extreme problems," Christian Kastrup, an assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at British Columbia, said in a press release.
"People have developed hundreds of agents that can clot blood but the issue is that it's hard to push these therapies against severe blood flow, especially far enough upstream to reach the leaking vessels. Here, for the first time, we've come up with an agent that can do that," added Kastrup, a researcher with the university's Michael Smith Laboratories.
Kastrup and his research partners developed gas-generating calcium carbonate micro-particles, which can bind with tranexamic acid, a clotting agent, and deliver it to internal bleeding sources.
The powder was successfully tested on two animal models, mimicking traumatic injuries.
Researchers say the new powder, which is detailed in the journal Science Advances, could have a range of uses in emergency medicine.
"The area we're really focusing on is postpartum hemorrhage: in the uterus, after childbirth where you can't see the damaged vessels but you can put the powder into that area and the particles can propel and find those damaged vessels," said Kastrup.