Uncontrolled bleeding is a leading cause of death worldwide. Specifically, postpartum hemorrhage leads to maternal death in 1-2 percent of all births in low-resource settings, while hemorrhage due to trauma is the largest killer of young people worldwide. Conversely, undesired clotting, or thrombosis, is a leading killer of Canadians because it causes strokes and heart attacks.
New drugs have led to advanced treatments for thrombosis and hemorrhage. Attaching the drugs to carrier materials that target sites of damaged blood vessels would further improve the treatments. Biological materials that target damaged blood vessels already exists in nature, providing a guideline for developing improved targeting materials: platelets and blood clots adhere selectively to injured vessels to stop bleeding.
This project will investigate the components and mechanisms that cause blood clots to selectively adhere to injured blood vessels. It will also use these findings to explore ways to engineer new materials that mimic these properties to target drugs to damaged blood vessels.
One material we recently developed self-propels through blood flow and deep into wounds to deliver drugs that help stop bleeding. It was highly effective in large animal models of fatal hemorrhage by locally delivering pro-coagulants. Our next step is to conduct preclinical tests toward developing a clinical trial for postpartum hemorrhage.
The project aims to produce a treatment for postpartum hemorrhage in order to save the lives of new mothers, and to contribute to broader prevention and treatment of hemorrhage and thrombosis.