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Foamtastic!

Researchers invent a foam material with multiple wound-healing capabilities.

Jingxuan Yang and Jeffrey Catchmark
Jingxuan Yang, a visiting scholar from Donghua University (left), and Jeffrey Catchmark work in the lab on a new, patent-pending bio-absorbable medical foam.

It absorbs blood and body fluids, expands to put pressure on a wound, conforms to a wound's shape, and doesn't stick to tissue. Once applied, its surface transitions to a gel that promotes healing, and it can be left inside the body.

Jeffrey Catchmark, associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering, has invented a biofoam pad that he says can be placed within traumatic wounds like gunshots, shrapnel cuts, and other deep wounds to stop bleeding and stabilize the area until the patient can be taken to a medical facility.

Catchmark, who is in the process of commercializing the patent-pending product, won $5,000 from TechCelerator@StateCollege in late 2015 to help take the product to market following the Ten-Week Boot Camp for Entrepreneurs. He and co-principal investigator Scott Armen, chief, Division of Trauma, Acute Care, and Critical Care Surgery at the Penn State Hershey College of Medicine, also won $75,000 toward commercializing the foam from the College of Agricultural Sciences and the College of Medicine, under the Research Applications for Innovation (RAIN) grant program. The RAIN grant program helps researchers commercialize their discoveries and be successful in the marketplace.

Currently, the properties of the foam are being tested on cadavers at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center. The cadaver studies are testing expansion, blood absorbability, and wound conformability. Some aspects of the foam can only be tested on living tissue via animal studies or human clinical trials, says Catchmark.

Ultimately, Catchmark hopes to produce a go-to pack of the foam in a variety of shapes to instantly treat any number of wounds. The pack could then be easily carried and used in the field by emergency responders and military medics.

--Martha Schupp