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Case Western Reserve University scientist granted $3.8 million to study freeze-dried synthetic platelets

The grant, given by the U.S. Department of Defense, seeks to help injured soldiers on the battlefield.
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CLEVELAND — A Case Western Reserve University scientist is on the verge of changing the way injured soldiers are treated on the battlefield. 

Anirban Sen Gupta has worked on synthetic platelet substitutes for more than a decade and is now being given the freedom and opportunity to fully study a comprehensive freeze-dried platelet solution. 

Sen Gupta, a professor in Biomedical Engineering at CWRU, was recently given a $3.8 million grant by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to develop freeze-dried artificial platelets that, in theory, can help to treat bleeding on a battlefield. 

“Reducing the time gap between when severe injury happens and its treatment becomes possible is critical for survival, and platelets—because they help clotting and stop bleeding—can improve that time,” Sen Gupta said.

According to a press release from CWRU, the distinguished professor will work alongside scientists at the University of Pittsburgh, and work with Haima Therapeutics, a biotechnology company he helped to create. 

The military's only portable access to platelets at the moment are in liquid-form and carried around in space-occupying bags. 

“A soldier already carries 60 to 100 pounds of gear," Sen Gupta said, "so the goal is to make a synthetic platelet product that is easily portable as low weight and volume, so that it fits into the soldier’s carrying load.”

The Case Western professor believes that by freeze-drying platelets into a powder form that can easily be mixed with saline (which soldiers already carry), countless lives could be saved.

Platelets are one of the four main components of blood and assist in the blood-clotting process that the body maintains to stop a person from bleeding out. 

While Sen Gupta is focused on freeze-dried platelets at the moment, his biotechnology company, Haima, is also currently working on a synthetic platelet surrogate specifically designed to treat hemorrhages. 

“That’s the Holy Grail we’re trying to get to—a completely bio-artificial whole blood,” Sen Gupta said. 

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