Medical

Spray-on gel shows promise as a better frostbite treatment

Spray-on gel shows promise as ...
The gel has been successfully tested on rats, but there's no word on when it may be available for use on humans
The gel has been successfully tested on rats, but there's no word on when it may be available for use on humans
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The gel has been successfully tested on rats, but there's no word on when it may be available for use on humans
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The gel has been successfully tested on rats, but there's no word on when it may be available for use on humans

It's important to treat frostbite quickly, as it can lead to gangrene and ultimately amputation. A new spray gel could help, allowing for highly-effective treatment in places where it might not otherwise be possible.

Current treatments for frostbite include immersing the affected body part in warm water, and applying antibiotic or anti-inflammatory creams. For someone such as a mountaineer on an isolated mountaintop, however, warm water won't be available, and creams could freeze.

With these limitations in mind, a team of Indian scientists created the experimental gel.

First and foremost, it incorporates heparin, which is an anticoagulant that improves blood flow by both assisting in blood vessel repair and reducing clotting. This is packaged into tiny vesicles known as liposomes, which carry it through the surface of the skin and into the damaged tissue.

The spray additionally contains ibuprofen – for reducing pain and inflammation – along with propylene glycol, to keep the gel from freezing.

When the medication was sprayed onto lab rats' frostbite injuries, the wounds completely healed within 14 days. After the same amount of time, injuries on untreated rats were only 40-percent healed, while wounds that were treated with an antibiotic cream had healed by 80 percent.

A paper on the research, which was led by the Institute of Nano Science and Technology's Rahul Verma, was published this week in the journal ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering.

Source: American Chemical Society

3 comments
Ralf Biernacki
Now that this has been successfully tested in isolation, the logical next step would be to incorporate the antibiotic into the gel, and see if there is a synergistic effect.
Worzel
There maybe a few men in London, and elsewhere, who will have wished this was discovered a couple of decades or so ago. They made the mistake of jogging round London's parks in an exceptionally cold mid winter, with only their lovely little silk shorts on their nether regions. The results affected them, more that a little, with severe frost bite to their manliness, often necessitating removal of the affected part. Perhaps this could become standard equipment for climbers above the mountain snowline, for prevention of frostbite.
Saigvre
This is some fine planning for both more extreme temperatures (including cold) from global warming and for when recovery is finally engineered, rolled out, and years into happening. Thanks, and shout-outs to Edmonton, AB.