“Smart” Gel Immediately Begins Healing Process


By Merry Morris

Image this scenario: You’re hiking through the primeval forest with your favorite hiking companion – your dog. You two have enjoyed many similar excursions through all kinds of terrain without incident, but today, neither of you are so lucky. A freak rockslide leaves the animal severely cut and bleeding profusely. You know the blood flow is dangerously fast and must be stopped before your canine friend bleeds out. You have to do something quickly.

If you had with you a syringe of Vetigel™, manufactured by Suneris, you could take command of the situation immediately simply by applying a bead of gel along the cut. To your great relief, the blood flow would stop almost instantly. This scenario is not something out of science fiction, but rather an example of biotechnology to the rescue.

Bleeding Is Fast, Vetigel Is Faster

The human face of the remarkable new hemostatic (blood-clotting) product is that of a young scientist-entrepreneur, Joe Landolino. As an undergraduate at New York University, this remarkable young innovator had an interest—polymers mimicking the structure of their surroundings. Now head of a company to bring the product to market, he has created such a gel with important properties for stopping bleeding, especially in life-threatening situations. The gel binds quickly to the wound and initiates the clotting process. As long as the wound can be covered by the gel, the clotting and healing process can begin.

Not only is the Vetigel fast, it is faster than other means of staunching blood flow, doesn’t require pressure on the wound, forms a rugged covering over the wound and, being stable at room temperature, can be carried in a syringe into the woods or into battle — wherever it might be needed.

Vetigel is a “smart” polymer, and its biotechnology is pretty neat. To create this “smart” gel, polymers are extracted from plant cell walls. These polymers can reassemble into the pattern of new surroundings. When placed in an open wound, the polymers work with the body and reassemble, following the local pattern of the cells’ natural matrix, extra cellular material or “ECM”, matching that of the specific location of the wound. Hence, the company’s name, Suneris, from the Latin phrase sui generis or “of its own kind.”

While limited now to veterinary use, the approval process is underway for use on humans. When it is fully available, we can imagine an incredible thing — an injured soldier pulling out a syringe of Vetigel and applying it to his own wound, even before help can arrive.

Extension Questions

  • Investigate hemostasis: What are its stages, what promotes and what impedes the process? How long does it take the body to clot by itself?
  • What are the characteristics of a “smart” biotechnology?
  • What must be proven before a product can be used on humans?