A fast-acting medical device developed for emergency treatment of a gunshot or other penetrating wound on the battlefield has been cleared for civilian use by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The XStat 30 is a plastic syringe that can stop severe bleeding within around 20 seconds through the injection of small sponges into a wound, and will now be available for use by the general population.

Taken from prototype stage through to its final development under a US$5 million US Army contract, the first variant called XStat was approved for use on the battlefield in 2014. Narrow, penetrative wounds like those resulting from a gunshot are obviously very agonizing, but emergency treatments in the field involving the application of special gauze and direct pressure cause extreme discomfort for the patient, too.

Functioning in essentially the same way as the military version, XStat 30 works by filling a wound with small cellulose sponges, which are made from wood pulp and coated in chitosan, a compound found in crustacean shells. Researchers have previously sought to harness the antimicrobial properties of chitosan for things like tackling superbugs and spray-on coatings that boost the shelf life of fresh fruits.

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