soldiers

“In combat situations, lives are measured in a matter of seconds. If we can extend a soldier’s life for a couple of hours so that adequate medical treatment can be made available, we have an obligation to do so,” says Theresa Fossum. She is part of a team working collaboratively with other academic centers and the federal government on life-saving battlefield treatments, some of which have shown promise in reducing the body’s need for blood and oxygen.

TEXAS A&M (US)—Researchers are investigating frontline treatments that would give injured U.S. military personnel a better chance at survival when there is massive blood loss.

In such cases it is critical for the injured person to receive emergency trauma care within the first hour, known as “the golden hour.” Unfortunately, many combat casualties occur in inaccessible locations where rapid evacuation is impossible.

A team at Texas A&M University will test small volume medications that can be given rapidly on the battlefield to extend the “golden hour” by as much as six hours. If successful, these medications would give injured troops a much higher chance of survival.

“Developing an effective, easily administered medication that could extend the ‘golden period’ to five or six hours would save countless lives that would otherwise be lost,” says Theresa Fossum, founder and director of the Texas A&M Institute for Preclinical Studies.

Fossum says principal investigator Matthew Miller, professor of veterinary cardiology and a senior research scientist at the Institute for Preclinical Studies, “has developed a model that serves as a predictive test bed for evaluation of these potential treatments.”

The team is working collaboratively with other academic centers and the federal government on several potential treatments, some of which have shown promise in reducing the body’s need for blood and oxygen.

“We are actively evaluating several promising treatments in our model,” says Miller. “Once we have identified an effective intervention we will move forward with evaluations required by the FDA to facilitate gaining approval for future evaluations in humans.”

Miller says the team is optimistic that any effective treatment could also provide valuable information for developing civilian applications.

Combat injuries resulting in severe blood loss ideally respond to hemorrhage control, large volume fluid resuscitation, and rapid evacuation to a surgical hospital, says Fossum. “By using cardiovascular system models that are similar to that of humans, we are able to accurately predict the safety and efficacy of any potential therapies. In combat situations, lives are measured in a matter of seconds. If we can extend a soldier’s life for a couple of hours so that adequate medical treatment can be made available, we have an obligation to do so,” she adds.

The project is part of Pentagon efforts to dramatically reduce battlefield deaths and is being supported by funding through the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

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