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Improving Outcomes for Patients with Severe Bleeding

July 05, 2023
Written By Christian Kastrup, PhD

Senior Investigator Christian Kastrup, PhD, is working to develop new treatments for stopping bleeding in difficult-to-access areas of the body.


Every year, countless people are affected by serious bleeding, whether it’s from a diagnosed blood disorder, during surgery or as the result of trauma, like a car accident. In his lab at Versiti Blood Research Institute, Senior Investigator Christian Kastrup, PhD, works to uncover new mechanisms and create new products related to blood coagulation. “A major focus of our lab is to decrease the morbidity and mortality from bleeding and hemorrhage,” he said.

One area of focus for Dr. Kastrup’s lab is traumatic hemorrhage. “Trauma is actually the #1 killer of young people worldwide,” he said. “Hemorrhage is a key aspect of that.” His lab investigates mechanisms related to blood coagulation proteins and enzymes that are involved in bleeding and hemorrhage, with the goal of developing new therapies to stop severe bleeding. “We use that knowledge to create gauze products for stopping severe bleeding, as well as developing devices for bleeds that can’t currently be managed,” he said.

A wound to an extremity or something like the femoral artery can have pressure applied, be packed and a hemostatic agent applied immediately; however, areas that are more spread out, like the abdomen, are not easily accessed by hemostatic agents. Currently, there is no standard treatment for stopping this type of bleeding, and a patient’s best hope is that they do not bleed out or experience irreversible damage before they are able to reach a surgeon.

Dr. Kastrup’s lab is developing a device that would spray medication at the source of the bleed and promote blood clotting. “There are a lot of powerful hemostatic agents, but it’s really hard to get them to the site of bleeding in the trunk,” he says. “If there’s a major laceration to an organ in the abdomen, it’s hard to get the hemostatic agent right to it. These therapies would apply to any patient experiencing bleeding, particularly those in the armed forces. Non-compressible abdominal hemorrhage is one of the biggest unmet needs in combat casualty care.”

Dr. Kastrup’s lab received a large grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to develop this handheld device, which would contain hemostatic power and a CO2 cartridge that sprays the powder down a catheter or gastroscope into the abdomen. “I hope that it will be in every stop-the-bleed kit in schools, community centers and ambulances,” he said. “It would definitely be used by medics, like in the special forces, and by family physicians. And it would be beneficial in rural areas, where there are delays in getting to the hospital.”

Though this product is still in development, Dr. Kastrup has high hopes. “We hope that the things we’re developing will improve mortality and morbidity from hemorrhage, surgical bleeding, bleeding disorders and thrombosis,” he says. “Versiti Blood Research Institute, along with the Medical College of Wisconsin, are the ideal places to take this research from the bench to the bedside.”

Versiti Blood Research Institute, Senior Investigator Christian Kastrup, PhD, is a senior investigator at Versiti Blood Research Institute. He is also a professor in the Department of Surgery, Division of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, and the Departments of Biochemistry, Biomedical Engineering, and Pharmacology and Toxicology at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Reference List

  • Ali-Mohamad N, Cau M, Zenova V, Baylis JR, Beckett A, McFadden A, Donnellan F, Kastrup CJ, “Self-propelling thrombin powder enables hemostasis with no observable rebleeding or thrombosis over three days in a porcine model of upper gastrointestinal bleeding. Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. (2023) Accepted and In Press. 2023-03.
  • Ali-Mohamad N*, Cau MF*, Wang X, Khavari A, Peng H, Ringgold K, Naveed A, Sherwood C, Peng N, Gao HZ, Zhang Y, Tenn C, Semple H, Peng H,  Tenn C, Baylis JR, Beckett A, White NJ, Kastrup C, “Ruggedized Self-Propelling Hemostatic Gauze Delivers Low Dose of Thrombin and Systemic Tranexamic Acid and Achieves High Survival in Swine with Junctional Hemorrhage ” Military Medicine Accepted and In Press. 2023-03.
  • Cau MF, Ali-Mohamad N, Yeh H, Baylis JR, Peng H, Zhang Gao H, Rezende-Neto J, Grecov G, White NJ, Tenn C, Semple HA, Beckett A, Kastrup CJ, “Percutaneous delivery of self-propelling thrombin-containing powder increases survival from non-compressible truncal hemorrhage in a swine model of dilutional coagulopathy and hypothermia”, Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, 2022 93(2S Suppl 1):S86-S93. doi: 10.1097/TA.0000000000003670. PMID: 35545803.
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Christian Kastrup, PhD
Dr. Kastrup is a senior investigator at Versiti Blood Research Institute who studies how blood clotting is regulated and can be controlled therapeutically.
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Versiti Blood Research Institute investigators study blood disorders like hemophilia, blood cancers like leukemia, and other blood diseases.