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PU foam helps stop battlefield internal bleeding

December 17, 2012

ARLINGTON, VA. (Dec. 17, 2:15 p.m. ET) — The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has developed a polyurethane foam technology that could increase the survival rate of injured troops in the battlefield.

DARPA made the discovery as part of its Wound Stasis System program, which it launched in 2010 in hopes of finding a technological solution that could mitigate damage from internal bleeding.

Materials company and program participant Arsenal Medical Inc. developed a PU foam-based product that can control hemorrhaging in a patient’s intact abdominal cavity for at least one hour, based on swine injury model data, DARPA said.

The polyurethane forms inside a patient’s body upon injection of polyol and isocyanate into the abdominal cavity. As the liquids mix, two reactions are triggered, DARPA said. First, the mixed liquid expands to about 30 times its original volume while conforming to the surfaces of injured tissue. Second, the liquid transforms into solid foam capable of providing resistance to intra-abdominal blood loss.

During testing, minimally invasive application of the product reduced blood loss six-fold and increased the rate of survival at three hours post-injury to 72 percent from the eight percent observed in controls, the agency reported.

“According to the US Army Institute of Surgical Research, internal hemorrhage is the leading cause of potentially survivable deaths on the battlefield, so the Wound Stasis effort should ultimately translate into an increased rate of survival among warfighters. If testing bears out, the foam technology could affect up to 50 percent of potentially survivable battlefield,” said Brian Holloway, DARPA program manager.

DARPA recently awarded a $15.5 million Phase II contract to Arsenal Medical to continue development of the treatment system and support regulatory submission. DARPA anticipates continuing the Wound Stasis program through to Food and Drug Administration approval of a prototype device, and possibly further.