The Loh Down On Science

Under Pressure

First aid in a can?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Meet the military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency--or DARPA. It’s interested in technologies that stop bleeding.

Treating battlefield abdominal wounds is tricky! Internal bleeding can’t be stopped by applying pressure the way external bleeding can. It has to be stopped surgically. But how to buy injured soldiers time to get to the nearest hospital?

Enter medical research company ARSENAL. It's been experimenting with two chemical compounds. The first, polyol, is an alcohol. The second, isocyanate, is a component of polyurethane.

ARSENAL found that combining polyol and isocyanate triggers two reactions. First the mixture expands to 30 times its volume, then it transforms into a solid, moldable foam!

When the two are injected into the abdomen, the resulting foam conforms to internal organs. That provides gentle compressive pressure, stopping bleeding long enough to reach a hospital. There, surgeons can easily remove the nonsticky foam in one piece!

Sure works better than other things they tried: Cheez Whiz, Silly String, and Cool Whip. We imagine.

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC Pasadena, California. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Follow us on Twitter.


blog comments powered by Disqus