MIT researchers have discovered a clear nanoliquid that when applied to a wound can stop bleeding in less than 15 seconds. The liquid is a solution of small protein pieces that assemble into nanoscale fibers on contact, creating a gel that stops the flow of blood without clotting or pressure. As the wound heals, the gel breaks down into amino acids—the building blocks of proteins—that can be taken up by nearby cells and used for tissue repair, according to MIT neuroscientist Rutledge Ellis-Behnke.
So far, the solution has been used to stop bleeding not only in the skin and the arteries but also in brain, liver, muscle, and spinal-cord wounds. Because as much as 50 percent of surgical time is spent controlling bleeding, the nanoliquid could significantly shorten many invasive operations. It also stays clear, so surgeons can continue to see the area they are working on, and doesn't require a second procedure for removal because it breaks down naturally. The liquid doesn't need to be refrigerated and is easily transported, so it could also be used by first responders to emergency scenes as well as on the battlefield. "There are a lot of advantages," Ellis-Behnke says.