Most patients experience a minimal amount of bleeding after receiving an injection. But for those with bleeding disorders – including hemophilia – an injection using a standard needle could result in an uncontrolled loss of blood.
Researchers in Korea have developed a novel biodegradable polymer, which can be used to coat the needle and effectively seal an injection site. The research was published in the journal, Nature Materials.
“Bleeding is largely unavoidable following syringe needle puncture of biological tissues and, while inconvenient, this typically causes little or no harm in healthy individuals,” said the researchers in their publication. “However, there are certain circumstances where syringe injections can have more significant side effects, such as uncontrolled bleeding in those with hemophilia, coagulopathy, or the transmission of infectious diseases through contaminated blood.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it’s estimated that 20,000 people in the US are living with hemophilia. The bleeding disorder results from a deficiency, or total lack of, the clotting factors necessary to prevent uncontrolled bleeding.
The majority of people with hemophilia are diagnosed at a very young age, with some of the most severe forms being identified in patients as young as one month. Approximately two thirds of cases of the bleeding disorder – for which there is no known cure – occur in people with a family history of the disease.
The polymer developed by the Korean researchers is derived from chitosan, a component of crustacean shells. The gel polymer hardens upon contact with blood to prevent post-injection bleeding.
The researchers compared the polymer-coated needles to regular needles in mouse models of hemophilia. All of the mice injected with standard needles died as a result of uncontrolled bleeding. Those who were injected with the polymer-coated needles however, saw a 100 percent survival rate.
So far, the coated needles have only been tested in preclinical studies, but the promising results have the potential to apply to human patients as well. “Such self-sealing haemostatic needles and adhesive coatings may therefore help to prevent complications associated with bleeding in more clinical settings,” said the researchers.