Published on February 18, 2013 at 2:59 AM
"We knew the molecule that we wanted and we knew the domains that were critical for recognition," Barker said. "The primary design concept was the ability to recognize an active, forming clot from the soluble, inactive precursor."
The artificial platelets have so far been tested in rats, and separately using in vitro simulated endothelial systems in the laboratory of Wilbur Lam, an assistant professor at Emory University in Atlanta. Though the work is a long way from a device that could be used on the battlefield, Barker envisions transitioning the research to a startup company that develop the technology to improve survivability for wounded soldiers.
"You could have it literally in the pocket of any soldier, who could pop it out when needed," Barker explained. "As the needle is extended, you would break the package of freeze-dried particles. The device would then be placed on the abdomen, where the particles would be injected into the bloodstream. They would circulate inactive until they encountered the initiation of clotting."
Once the bleeding was stopped, cytokines and anti-inflammatory compounds within the "designer" clot could help determine the phenotype that should be adopted by healing cells and regulate their behavior. That would set the stage for the subsequent healing process.
To help soldiers already suffering from the effects of fibrosis - the contraction of scarred tissue - the researchers are developing a polymer to which a natural peptide is attached. The peptide helps regulate the repair process that produces scars and could ultimately help reduce or reverse the effects of fibrosis. The technique has reversed the effects of pulmonary fibrosis in an animal model.
Though the research focuses on the needs of soldiers injured on the battlefield, many of the technologies could ultimately find civilian use. Because the artificial platelets would only activate when the encounter thrombin-activated fibrin, they could be used by emergency medical technicians treating patients in which internal bleeding is suspected, Barker said.
Source: Georgia Institute of Technology