Joe Landolina was a 17-year-old recent arrival at New York University when he made a discovery that could save millions of lives. He's now gearing up to take his invention, a gel that instantly stops internal and external bleeding in under 10 seconds without the need to apply any pressure, to the market—starting with veterinarians.
Called Veti-Gel, the product initially began as an idea when Landolina was a freshman and won an NYU business competition. As a result, NYU business student Isaac Miller gave him just enough money to start a company. Today, Landolina has his master's degree in biomedical engineering, along with a 10-person company called Suneris that's bringing his invention to the public. He was also recently named a TEDGlobal Fellow.
Landolina's gel is made up of plant-derived analogue of something called the extracellular matrix (ECM)—a mesh of proteins and sugars that sits around cells and tells them what to do and how to behave. The ECM varies from organ to organ. The gel is broken down into small pieces, kind of like Lego blocks, and when it's placed on a wound, it rebuilds itself into the pattern of the existing ECM. If you put the gel on skin, it will have the properties of skin. If you put it next to the liver, it will take on the properties of the liver. Incidentally, it also causes the body to produce a lot of fiber wherever it's applied. Fiber is a key molecule in the blood clotting process.
You can see the gel in action here (warning: the video is graphic).
There are 1,600 veterinarian clinics enrolled to use samples of the product for clinical evaluation; those samples will be shipped out in the next two months. After that, Veti-Gel will move into the military and trauma space. "Optimistically speaking, by the middle to end of next year we could have approval for [those] markets," says Landolina.
Once approval for military and trauma use is achieved, Veti-Gel will launch in the human surgical market. Landolina believes there are a number of potential applications in the operating room, from stopping bleeds during vascular surgery to grade 4 liver trauma. "Picture the liver as a water balloon full of blood, and if you really damage it, it’s really difficult to stop the bleed. Trauma surgeons today just wrap the liver in gauze, try to control bleeding, use transfusions. There's no hemostatic product to address the problem. We’ve found we can stop bleeding in less than one minute," says Landolina.
As you might expect, the technology has other potential applications for wound healing, burn treatment, and other therapeutics. Suneris is busy researching them now.