Clotting Battlefield Wounds with Shrimp
Scientists have developed a bandage that can clot a bullet wound in one minute or less. The magic ingredient? Ground shrimp shells and vinegar, a concoction that has been found to clot blood instantly. The key ingredient in the shrimp shells is called chitosan.
The bandages were developed by HemCon, Inc., which develops and markets technologies to control severe bleeding for traumatic skin and organ injuries. Gregory, who co-founded HemCon, says chitosan interacts with our blood cells because its molecules carry a positive charge. “The outer membrane of a red blood cell has a negative charge,” he explains, “and opposite charges attract. The red cell is attracted to the positively-charged chitosan, and when it touches, it fuses and forms a blood clot.” When a clot forms, the bleeding stops. And unlike a regular bandage, which slips off when wet, the HemCon bandage becomes adhesive and sticks to the wet wound site, sealing and stabilizing it.“Bleeding is the single largest cause of death on the battlefield,” says Jim Hensel, President and CEO of HemCon. “The technology that exists today prior to the HemCon bandage is a compression bandage and a tourniquet, which is the same thing used in the Civil War, the Revolutionary Way, and frankly, the Trojan War.”