DARPA's Expandable Foam Fights Against Internal Bleeding


A new foam developed by Arsenal Medical in conjunction with DARPA could prove to be a critical lifeline for wounded soldiers on the battlefield.

Injectable into the body where it expands to around 30 times its original volume, DARPA says the polyurethane polymer can stabilise the health of injured soldiers and control internal haemorrhaging for at least an hour, a critical period of time – the so-called “Golden Hour” - where proper medical attention can be sought.

A product of DARPA's own Wound Stasis System program, the foam is designed to be used by combat medics (the ease of application is vitally important, as is how quick it gets to work) and is injected into the body as two separate liquids; where they later mix inside the abdominal cavity, thereby causing the foam to expand, solidify and, critically, stop the bleeding. Not only have tests proven application of the foam is relatively non-invasive, but DARPA reports its use significantly reduces blood loss from lethal injuries, increasing the rate of survival at three hours post-injury to 72-percent, up from the 8-percent recorded prior. Furthermore, removal of the foam took less than one minute following incision, according to DARPA, with the foam coming out in one solid block that can be easily removed by hand.

Having awarded Arsenal Medical with a $15.5 million Phase II contract to continue development of the foam, DARPA hopes to see FDA-approval of a prototype device in the near future.

Richard Birkett