DARPA’s Stasis Foam Set for the Battlefield
In modern medicine the term “Golden Hour” refers to the first sixty minutes following a traumatic injury. During this hour, there is the highest likelihood that medical treatment will prevent death by injury. In the battlefield, abdominal wounds are nearly impossible to treat as combat medics are unable to detect where exactly the injuries are or how to stop internal bleeding. In many cases, the only treatment capable of saving the service member’s life is to get them to a surgeon, which is not always an option.
In response, Arsenal Medical Inc. and The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) are currently developing a polyurethane polymer foam which will control internal hemorrhaging and could dramatically reduce the amount of battlefield casualties due to internal bleeding. DARPA hopes that when finished, their foam will help the wounded survive during the critical minutes necessary while transporting a service member to a proper surgeon.
How does it Work?
The polymer foam is first injected into the abdominal cavity in two liquid phases – a poly phase and an isocyanate phase. When the liquids combine, they react and expand to 30 times their original volume. As the foam expands, it fills the intact abdominal cavity and hardens into a dressing that molds itself to the internal organs and resists blood loss. The military had tried similar foam-based solutions in the past but to no success as many of the foams stuck to tissue and mixed with moving blood. DARPA’ s new foam is capable of being removed in nearly one piece and in less than one minute after the surgeon’s initial incision. The foam does not adhere to tissues and only mildly absorbs blood on its surface.
In order to test the foam, Arsenal Medical Inc. chose to work with swine as their anatomy and size of organs are similar to that of humans. Researchers found it critical that tests were performed in closed cavities which many feel is a concept that is as revolutionary as the foam itself as it has never been done before. In their tests, Arsenal Medical Inc. found that pigs died within 30 minutes without intervention. With their foam, 100 percent survived an hour and 72 percent survived for close to three hours. While DARPA’ s foam has yet to be approved for human testing, the results are promising and have many extremely excited at its potential. Arsenal recently received a $15.5 million Phase II contract award and will be entering the FDA application process soon in hopes to eventually begin human testing.
Attachments: Stasis Foam Set for the Battlefield