New glass powder shows promise for stopping bleeding and preventing infections

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Could a glass powder to stop bleeding after gunshot wounds and other body injuries also act as an antibacterial and help stop infection?

Dr. Mark Towler, associate professor of chemical and biochemical engineering at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, hopes to answer that question soon—and he says a trip to the University of the Western Cape in South Africa will help.

Towler is participating in the University of Missouri’s South African Education Program, which will help fund her travel to the country.

In the late spring or early summer of 2024, Towler will travel to South Africa for a week and Dr. Pedro Abrantes, who conducts research in the university’s Department of Medical Biosciences. After the summer, Abrantes will visit the United States for a week.

They expect the tests and research they are collaborating on will take six months to complete.

Towler said he spent several years researching how the glass powder he developed could stop bleeding more safely and effectively than conventional methods, such as packing wounds with dressings. He first applied for a patent for the treatment in 2016 and it was granted last year. The technology is now licensed by a Kentucky company with military connections, and Towler is exploring additional ways it could be useful.

The powder, which clots quickly and safely degrades over time in the body, also releases ions into the body that Towler hopes will have antibacterial properties. However, this has yet to be tested, which is how the University of the Western Cape works.

Towler says there are two reasons why traveling to this university was a logical decision for him.

First, South Africa has high death rates related to trauma from gunshot wounds and vehicle accidents. Towler said he hopes conducting research in this country can lead to faster approval and access to treatment in South Africa.

Second, Towler is a world traveler, and he has yet to visit the country. A map in his Missouri S&T office with symbols of each place he visited shows that South Africa is one of the few countries he has yet to explore.

The research we will conduct could revolutionize treatment options to stop uncontrolled blood flow and stop the spread of bacteria. South Africa is a country that can greatly benefit from this research and I am Dr. Abrants in this project.”

Dr. Mark Towler, Associate Professor of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology

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