Injectable foam to stabilize trauma injuries could boost survival rates on and off battlefield (video)

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A medical device startup has received a $15.5 million contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to advance its potentially life-saving approach to stabilizing trauma patients for transport, according to a company statement.

Watertown, Massachusetts-based Arsenal Medical has developed an injectable foam that conforms to the shape of internal organs to control internal bleeding. Although it’s developed for hemorrhaging associated with battlefield injuries, it could also have implications for the civilian world.

The phase 2 contract award will help the company advance the therapy from preclinical proof of concept to support late-stage development and regulatory submission for the device.

The makers contend that the device can significantly add to the window of time trauma patients have to get life-saving medical treatment before suffering permanent injury. One of the biggest challenges in treating trauma patients is stabilizing them for transport. But a proof-of-concept study using pigs showed the foam made a significant difference in patient outcomes.


The device would fill an unmet need for battlefield injuries, according to Dr. David King, a trauma surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital with combat theater experience who was the senior author of the study. “There are no effective pre-hospital treatments available for intra-abdominal bleeding on the battlefield. Our ultimate goal is to find innovative ways to improve treatment and save lives of those who are serving their country as well as those who experience serious injury through trauma.”

Internal hemorrhaging is the leading cause of potentially survivable deaths on the battlefield, so the foam technology could affect up to 50 percent of potentially survivable battlefield wounds, according to Brian Holloway, DARPA program manager. As to how the foam is extracted, removal took less than one minute after an incision by a surgeon and was removed by hand in a single block, with only minimal amounts remaining in the abdominal cavity.



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Stephanie Baum

By Stephanie Baum

Stephanie Baum is the East Coast Innovation Reporter for She enjoys covering healthcare startups across health IT, drug development and medical devices and innovations deployed to improve medical care. She graduated from Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania and has worked across radio, print and video. She's written for The Christian Science Monitor, Dow Jones & Co. and United Business Media.
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