Swab a clear liquid onto a gaping wound and watch the bleeding stop in seconds. An international team of researchers has accomplished just that in animals, using a solution of protein molecules that self-organise on the nanoscale into a biodegradable gel that stops bleeding. If the material works as well in humans, it could save thousands of lives and make surgery far easier in many cases, surgeons say. Molecular biologist Shuguang Zhang, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US, began experimenting with peptides in 1991. Zhang and colleagues at MIT and the University of Hong Kong in China went on to design several materials that self-assemble into novel nano-structures, including a molecular scaffold that helps the regrowth of severed nerve cells in hamsters (see Nano-scaffolds could help rebuild sight).

Self-assembling gel stops bleeding in seconds – tech – 10 October 2006 – New Scientist Tech