Syringe Containing Hemostatic Sponges Could Save Wounded Soldiers In Need Of Urgent Clotting

When a soldier is shot in battle, it is rarely the case that the bullet leads to a quick and immediate death. Rather, the leading cause of death on the battlefield is hemorrhage, or excessive blood loss. While methods of clotting blood flow such as tourniquets or gauze pads do exist, they often do little to help in situations where a deep wound has been inflicted in junctional areas- such as the neck, shoulder, or groin. As a result, casualties due to blood loss often occur while soldiers are being transported to a nearby medical station or hospital.

In 2013, students at John Hopkins University developed an injectable foam with hemostatic effects that could be applied to major wounds. The foam, a product of a chemical reaction between a polyol and a diisocyanate, expands exponentially once it is injected into a wound, then hardens a few seconds later to apply pressure to the walls of the cavity.

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Although touted at that time as an innovative technology to quickly block blood loss on the battlefield, it was later discovered that the high blood pressure of soldiers would lead to the foam being washed right out- rendering the whole process useless in terms of preventing hemorrhage.

Now, an Oregon startup biotech company claims they have a better solution- a modified syringe containing small sponges that are injected directly into the wound. The sponges are coated with chitosan, a chemically processed form of chitin.

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While chitosan has mainly been employed in biopesticides or drug transmission, scientists have recently discovered that it has hemostatic properties. The interaction of its positively charged amino side group with the negatively charged cell membrane of red blood cells leads to the accumulation of clotting factors, resulting in rapid thrombus formation.

When these sponges are directly injected into the open wound, they can expand up to 20 times their original size, applying pressure to the walls of the cavity in just 15 seconds. And  because sponges naturally cling to moist surfaces, they aren’t washed right out by the flow of blood.

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New Dental Implant Tech Speeds and Improves Bone Growth

In ancient Egypt, carved pebbles or seashells would be anchored to the jawbones as a replacements for missing teeth. Nonetheless, the current dentistry domain has witnessed more sophistication, but the initial concept remains the same: placement of an artificial root into the jawbone to support a replacement crown. The procedure first starts with fixing a titanium root into the jawbone, and it takes about three to six months for the bone to grow firmly around it. Thereafter, a healing cap is placed on the implant’s top to assist in healing of the gum, after which it is replaced by a regular cap that connects the implant to the crown. Magdent, an Israeli company, recently revealed it had developed a miniaturized electronic abutment/cap which was capable of making the bone grow three times faster via transmission of electromagnetic fields into the implant and surrounding bone graft. Orthopedists have for a long time employed electromagnetic fields in treatment of complicated bone fractures since they facilitate growth of bone-building cells. Magdent has scaled the technology down to the dentistry domain, which could prove useful for dental implant candidates at risk cause of poor bone quality.

Yes, the Opioid Crisis is Real

Opioids- a dangerous drug with a relatively tame reputation- is rapidly becoming one of America’s favorite pastimes, so much so that this year, an “opioid crisis” was declared in the US, with the number of opioid-related overdoses significantly increasing year after year.

This fact sheet released by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) contains some relevant details about the crisis: 116 people die every day from this drug!

In response to the growing number of people who abuse the drugs – including those obtained by prescription – health officials across the country urged the FDA to mandate inclusion of a warning on all products containing opioid drugs.

The FDA heeded the advice by requiring the regulator’s strongest warning – a boxed warning – on over 400 opioid-containing products.

“We believe that this black box warning is a critical first step in raising awareness around the danger of co-prescribing these medications,” said Dr. Leana Wen, the City Health Commissioner for Baltimore. “We expect the agency will take this petition from front-line public health leaders very seriously, and have already had initial productive conversations with them.”

 References: https://www.hhs.gov/opioids/

CRISPR: The Future

CRISPR gene editing technology has been something that I’ve kept a close eye on, and it seems like it’s finally breaking into the public sphere. The enormous potential of this technology has scientists speculating that it could be used to treat everything from sickle-cell-disease to HIV– a panacea for all of humanity’s current unsolvable ills.

Many large pharmaceutical companies- most notably, Bayer and Regeneron Pharamceuticals, are already delving into this new technology, collaborating with gene editing startups (such as Intellia Therapeutics) to break into the field.

CRISPR has also been approved for research use in human embryos- a decision that I’m sure will bring much controversy in the very near future. Until then, I’ll be on the lookout for more news on this game-changing technology.

A Statement Of Purpose

My name is Jaejun, and at the time of writing I’m heading into my sophomore year of high school. Here’s a little introduction to start off my blog:

My favorite mammal in 5th grade was the paramecium, for two distinct reasons:

1) I was in 5th grade and thought that the word ‘mammal’ was a generic term used to describe interesting animals (like lions, or humans).

2) In the few weeks before 5th grade started, I had received a light microscope for my 10th birthday and spent much of my time obsessively building fantasy lives for the various paramecia I observed with my new gift.

While I no longer dwell on the imaginary world of anthropomorphic single celled organisms, my love for biology is something that has still stayed with me. Over the years, I’ve found myself particularly fascinated by the great strides that the world has made in the field of biotechnology, and am constantly amazed at the new inventions that are being patented every day.

That’s why I created this website- blogging about biotech will give me the opportunity not only to track my own progress in this field, but also allow readers to gain more exposure to matter and ideas that they may not be familiar with.

In addition to biotechnology, my blog will also have a smaller focus on nanotechnology and dental technology. As a child, a big hobby of mine (besides talking with paramecia) was Lego building. I loved using my hands and combining smaller blocks in order to create a detailed final product, and when I started on a set it would often be 5 or 6 hours before I looked up again to take a quick break. When my cousin sarcastically suggested that I should become a dentist due to my hobby working with extremely small objects, I took her advice seriously- years of Lego building had made me pretty dextrous and detail-oriented, and a career in nanotechnology seemed like an actual possibility given my passion for biology as well. Using her suggestion as a baseline, I began researching on the career of biomedical engineering more specifically related to dental technology, and found the matter extremely interesting. In the long run, I hope that I continue to pursue this interest by blogging about relevant material as well as learning more about future engineering opportunities in the field of medicine or dentistry.

Taking The Genic Route is a personal blog of mine, and one that I hope to develop and refine as I go through my high school and college career- and maybe even beyond that. In the long run, I hope that this blog will serve as a consistent workplace for my biotech research, and it would be even better if project could develop into an online community that encompasses a variety of like-minded students with a strong interest in biology. For now, I hope that this brief introduction was helpful, and expect more posts to come soon.