An injection to steady the heart ensuing an immense blood loss may well save wounded soldiers or injured civilians in remote locations, posits an Australian scientist.
The fluid is being developed and tested by Queensland scientist Professor Geoffrey Dobson, whose research has been inspired by the ability of animals like the hummingbird to slow their heart rate during hibernation.
Prof Dobson, who is collaborating with the US Navy to develop the treatment, said it was essentially designed to save lives and buy crucial time before the wounded could be safely evacuated to hospital.
"We've developed a whole new solution to actually resuscitate the heart after massive shock," News.com.au quoted Prof Dobson as saying.
The fluid makes a heart weakened by blood loss beat more strongly to continue delivering blood to the body's vital organs until the patient can be delivered to surgery.
Prof Dobson, from James Cook University, said catastrophic haemorrhage was the leading cause of preventable death on the battlefield, where up to 90 per cent of combat deaths occur within an hour after injury.
The high salt and magnesium solution, which has been tested on animals, has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects and to restore the blood's clotting ability, which can be disrupted by trauma.
"The wider implications are for military and pre-hospital civilian use, in rural and remote areas, where nothing currently exists. There is nothing that resuscitates in that very short time," Prof Dobson said.
He said he hoped next to test the ability of the solution to treat traumatic brain injury.
The fluid will be tested further in animals before human safety trials are conducted.
The research follows the successful development by Prof Dobson of a treatment to arrest and restart the heart during cardiac surgery, which is used in the US and will shortly be introduced in Europe.