• Saving lives by extending the “Golden Hour” for service members and the critically injured

    Dr. Erica Bruce in her lab at Baylor

    Those who serve in the military often find themselves in remote places, far from any hospital. When injuries occur in such locations, time is of the utmost essence; if those injured can receive care within the first hour after the injury, it can be the difference between life and death.

    Baylor professor Erica Bruce is working to change that — increasing that “golden hour” from 60 minutes to an incredible 72 hours.

    Dr. Bruce, an associate professor of environmental science at Baylor since 2008, has patented an oxygenating, resuscitative drug to help the critically injured in those important first minutes and hours after injury. To understand what that means, one first has to understand the unpleasant realities of injury.

    Severe injury is often accompanied by severe blood loss, known as “hemorrhaging.” The body needs red blood cells to carry oxygen to vital organs; when hemorrhaging occurs, those organs are starved of oxygen because the body lacks the number of red blood cells needed to supply them. Stemming blood loss and restoring oxygen within that golden hour dramatically increases a patient’s chances of survival, but accomplishing that quickly on remote fields of battle is often difficult.

    That’s where Bruce’s research comes in. Through the creation of an oxygenating drug, Bruce aims to dramatically increase the golden hour up to 72 hours. In partnership with the Department of Defense and Hemotek, LLC, Bruce has patented a drug that delivers oxygen throughout the body. Coming in a lightweight, powdered form, it can easily be carried in those remote corners of the world, making it readily available when needed. Additionally, the drug does not have to be cross-matched by blood-type, meaning any blood type can use it.

    Bruce’s team continues to conduct studies on the therapeutic, and will examine the way the body heals in different altitudes or environmental conditions to further inform her work. A $2 million pending proposal with the Department of Defense could further fund the research, which (as Bruce told Waco’s KCEN-TV) is all about saving lives.

    “That’s the goal — to get this in the hands of people who need it as soon as we can.”

    Sic ’em, Dr. Bruce!