Australian researchers develop technology that could save millions from critical bleeding

Australian researchers say they have developed a cheap but better diagnostic that can save precious time in urgent treatment for millions of people who were at risk of dying from rapid blood loss each year.

During the process to save heavily bleeding patients, doctors generally need to make an urgent diagnosis of patients’ level of fibrinogen, a protein found in the blood that is important to stop critical bleeding.

“When a patient is bleeding heavily and has received several blood transfusions, their levels of fibrinogen drop. Even after dozens of transfusions, patients keep bleeding,” co-researcher, Professor Gil Garnier from Bioresource Processing Institute of Australia (BioPRIA) explained.

“What they need is an injection of fibrinogen. However, if patients receive too much fibrinogen, they can also die,”

Doctors now have some technologies that can make a quick diagnosis on fibrinogen concentration at the point of care, without moving patients to a hospital, which greatly saves time in urgent treatments. However, those technologies only work with plasma and hence need blood cells to be separated before use.

Researchers from the Department of Chemical Engineering of Monash University in Australia and BioPRIA demonstrated their technology can complete a fibrinogen diagnosis with whole blood within 4 minutes, using a glass slide, Teflon film, and a piece of paper.

The test works by placing a pre-mixed droplet of a blood sample and an enzyme solution onto a solid surface, allowing it to clot, and then dropping a paper strip on top. The further that blood moves down the strip of paper, the lower the fibrinogen concentration.

“The development of the world’s first handheld fibrinogen diagnostic is a game-changer for the millions of people who die each year from critical blood loss,” co-researcher, Dr. Clare Manderson from Monash Department of Chemical Engineering said.

“Our capacity to develop this diagnostic using cheap and readily available materials means it can be easily commercialised for use across the world.”