University of South Carolina

Scientists hope formula becomes new life saver

This article appears in the Summer 2010 issue of South Carolina Medicine, a University of South Carolina School of Medicine magazine.


Trauma surgeon Steve Fann has seen it all too often: multiple-injury victims rushed to the emergency room where surgery stops the bleeding but doesn’t prevent death, days later, from shock.

Nine million cases of severe hemorrhagic injury—the No. 1 killer of youth—are treated every year. Fann, a School of Medicine faculty member, has long wanted a better alternative to the IV fluids traditionally used to stabilize victims of severe blood loss. He soon might have it.

Steve Fann
Steve Fann

With two colleagues, Fann has helped develop a new IV fluid that in initial testing has proven to foster faster recovery with far fewer complications.

“We got a patent through the Intellectual Property Office, formed a company, and we’re hoping to begin human trials later this year with our product,” said Mike Yost, director of research in the surgery department and chief operating officer of Vitasol LLC, which holds the license for the patented fluid called Resuscinex.

Resuscinex works by drawing water out of the microscopic spaces between cells and into the vascular system. This restores blood pressure, which always drops sharply in shock victims who have lost blood, and also restores normal heart rate.

Mike Yost
Mike Yost

In addition, the formula provides energy to cells and increases blood flow in capillaries, the tiny vessels that are critical for supplying oxygen and nutrients to tissue.

“You usually need to administer about three-times as much traditional IV fluid as the amount of blood that’s been lost,” Fann said. “That restores blood pressure, but it causes a lot of other problems like inflammation, dilution of the blood and normal clotting, tissue injury, and stiffened lungs.

“We’ve found that Resuscinex is effective at one-tenth the dose of standard fluids; it reduces body-wide inflammation and doesn’t create the nasty side effects that traditional IV fluids do.”

John Propst
John Propst

While human trials will provide the definitive test, Fann said, the product’s ability to hasten recovery without complications could reduce stays in intensive care, lower the incidence of pneumonia, and generally cut costs associated with treating victims of hemorrhagic shock.

With Fann and Yost working the science side of Resuscinex, John Propst, who earned a Ph.D. in biomedical science from the School of Medicine and will soon complete an MBA from the Darla Moore School of Business, has been developing the business end. They hope to attract seed capital to develop a partnership, get FDA approval, and, ultimately, manufacture Resuscinex in South Carolina.

“This would have an immediate bedside impact, and it could be packaged for use on the battlefield to treat wounded soldiers,” Yost said. “We haven’t just built another mouse trap with Resuscinex; this is a whole new paradigm for treating shock victims.”

Vitasol LLC’s initial business development efforts were funded by a grant from SCLaunch, a collaboration among the S.C. Research Authority and the state’s three research universities to facilitate applied research, product development, and commercialization programs.

Posted: 03/10/10 @ 12:00 AM | Updated: 08/09/11 @ 9:17 AM | Permalink