Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation scientists have made a new a discovery that would help save lives threatened by traumatic injuries like those sustained in car crashes or on the battlefield.
The discovery also holds potential for treating severe infectious diseases and diabetes.
Lead author Dr Charles Esmon has shed light on how proteins called histones can enter the bloodstream and begin to kill the lining of blood vessels, leading to uncontrolled internal bleeding.
During the study, researchers, along with Temple University's Dr Marc Monestier, have found an antibody can block the histones' ability to kill.
"This discovery could open the door to new ways to treat soldiers hurt in IED attacks, gunshot wound victims and people who suffer a traumatic injury," Nature magazine quoted Esmon as saying.
"When we realized that histones were so toxic, we immediately went to work looking for a way to stop their destructive tendencies.
"When a patient is suffering from severe bleeds, these antibodies could prevent multi-organ failure," Esmon added.
The researchers have already tested the antibodies in pre-clinical trials, where they showed promising results and no adverse effects. A potential future step, said Esmon, would be human trials.
The study appears in journal Nature Medicine.