Treating Battlefield Injuries with Nanoemulsions

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 9 months ago

Imagine that you are in Iraq and you receive this letter from your father.

If you become wounded – especially on your extremities but also even on your whole body – and a doctor begins to discuss rapidly propagating infection, or amputation of limbs, you need immediately to request that he administer 50 Rads of gamma or x-ray radiation to the affected area.  If the infection doesn’t begin to retreat within 12 hours, request another 50 Rads.  If the doctor doesn’t understand or wants to talk about this, have him call me.  You know how to reach me at any hour, night or day.”

The idea has to do with radiation hormesis, and at least to practitioners and those familiar with it, it’s science is well known and well understood.  But there is help coming in the form of treatment of battlefield injuries with nanoemulsions.

In the combat zones of Afghanistan and Iraq, soldiers often suffer shrapnel wounds and burns as a result of improvised explosive device blasts.

But other threats – bacteria, viruses and fungi – linger in the air and soil. Contact with the soldiers’ broken skin can lead to debilitating and potentially life-threatening infections.

With the goal of developing a treatment that can be applied to soldiers’ wounds at battle zones and hospitals to prevent infections, the U.S. Department of Defense allocated a $1.5 million grant to researchers at the University of Michigan and the NanoBio Corporation, the university announced Tuesday.

Researchers at the university’s Michigan Nanotechnology Institute for Medicine and Biological Sciences and the Ann Arbor-based NanoBio Corp., a biopharmeceutical company, will use the money to study the effects of nanoemulsion-based therapies on curbing wound and burn infections in combat situations.

“A broadly effective nanoemulsion-based wound treatment that can be safely and easily applied at the time of injury, without causing pain or interfering with wound healing, would have great value to prevent infection, increase survival and enable more rapid healing of wounded United States military personnel,” Dr. James R. Baker, the principal investigator for the grant, said in prepared remarks.

Nanoemulsions are made up of soybean oil, alcohol, water and surfactants emulsified into droplets 200 to 600 nanometers in diameter, according to the release. Research shows that nanoemulsions are effective in combating various bacteria and viruses.

The two research entities will develop 10 new nanoemulsion formulations against bacteria, fungi and spores in lab culture studies. The formulations will then be studied on animals for safety and effectiveness before moving on to human trials.

Nanoemulsions have shown promising results in other aspects of health care. The application of nanoemulsions for the treatment of cold sores is currently undergoing phase 3 clinical trials. Nanoemulsions have also been studied to treat cystic fibrosis infections and develop vaccines against influenza and bioterrorism agents.

The $1.5 million grant will be distributed to the University of Michigan and NanoBio Corp. over a three-year period.

Faster please!



  • http://umc-unofficiallaymanopenforum.ning.com/ Warbucks

    “Nanoemulsions are made up of soybean oil, alcohol, water and surfactants emulsified into droplets 200 to 600 nanometers in diameter, according to the release.”

    Reads much like the shampoo the wife buys less the alcohol.

  • http://www.captainsjournal.com/ Herschel Smith

    Except the little detail of the emulsion consisting of nano-droplets. Details, details …

  • http://just.do Zeno Davatz

    I linked this articel to Wikipedia as well! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiation_hormesis

  • http://fastsurgeon.blogspot.com FaST Surgeon

    Now… slow down there cowboy. I’m not to sure where the gamma rays come in to play with the rest of the article body.. but we’ll leave that one alone for now. Let’s stick with the title – Just because it has the sexy “nano” in it, doesn’t make it a slam dunk. I’m certainly one fella who believes in nanotechnology and have written about its potential disruptive influence in medicine. But one thing that has been consistent since the introduction of antimicrobials. That is, topical application to a wound bed is ineffective at treating infection. We learned this in World War I – relearned in World War II and it finally sunk in some time on or about the Korean War. Additionally, the worst infections, necrotizing fascial and soft tissue infections, require surgical excision of the source because the tissue is already dead (and even doctor McCoy can’t cure that).

    Does this mean that the research is doomed? No… not at all. Just that I am not ready to get all goo-goo eyed over the prospect and would proceed forward with cautious optimism.
    FaST Surgeon

  • http://www.captainsjournal.com/ Herschel Smith

    The common theme between the two (radiation hormesis and nanoemulsions) was the promised deliverance from infection and its effects. The difference is that radiation treatments stop rapidly propagating infection, while I take it that the promise of nanoemulsions stops the onset of it to begin with (or perhaps I am reading the article wrong).

    Nothing can reverse dead tissue, but radiation hormesis is proven technology at stopping the growth and spread of it. It’s proven and tested.

    I can think of one advantage to nanoemulsions, that being the larger surface area to volume ratio that comes with smaller droplets and thus the more efficient application of the surfactants. But what do I know. That’s why more study is needed.

  • Pingback: detrimental effects - ionizing radiation - radiation hormesis - living organisms - level radiation - trace elements - cancer deaths - trace energy - Radiation - Hormesis


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This article is filed under the category(s) The Wounded and was published October 13th, 2010 by Herschel Smith.

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