JCU scientists have created a first response combat casualty drug that could save thousands of soldier’s lives and help keep patients alive in isolated areas.
Professor Geoff Dobson from James Cook University is the mastermind behind the game-changing new drug, ALM, which he says came about when his friend lost three Australian lives in a rebel Iraqi attack.
“I’m working with a US surgeon who was in Afghanistan… I said, how can I help, what do you need? And he said I needed ten minutes and he could have got them back,” Dobson said.
What is ALM?
Adenosine, Lidocaine and Magnesium make up the basis for the ALM drug. It works by placing the body in a mild hibernating state and stops blood pressure from dropping to low life-threatening values. The combination has a potent affect and can reduce internal blood loss by up to 60%. This is something that Dobson says could be the difference between life and death.
“This is an environment where 87% of most soldiers die even before they reach a medical treatment facility. Consequently, we’re working in those first ten, fifteen minutes to resuscitate the soldiers and save their lives,” Dobson said.
Dr Hayley Letson from James Cook University is working alongside Dobson to make the drug available, she says that up to 2,000 lives could have been saved if it had been available in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Traumatic injuries is one of the leading causes of death worldwide every year,” Letson said. “This is why we’re developing something that is given on the field at the site of injury. It can help to stabilise patients and stop bleeding so they have a better chance of getting to hospital alive.”
Paul Warren, from Mates 4 Mates knows all too well how precious time is. He suffered a traumatic injury that cost him a limb in Afghanistan.
“I remember the initial bleeding and my mates putting two tourniquets but they still couldn’t stop the bleeding,” Warren said.
“I know wives and children who could have had dad come back home if this [drug] was around… This has the ability to save lives.”
It’s not just soldiers who could benefit from this either, with Letson saying that ALM could potentially save lives everywhere – from the streets to the hospitals.
“As well as brain injuries and concussions, we’ve got one punch victims and brain haemorrhages happening every 18 minutes,”
“Ten percent of world wide deaths every year are due to traumatic injury and it doesn’t get the same coverage as cancer or diabetes, yet it disproportionally kills young people. There’s so many preventable deaths and we need to do something about that.” Letson said.
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