Stopping a leak the way blood does

When you get a cut, blood starts to flow from the wound. But very quickly, complex biochemical processes spring into action, creating a scaffolding of molecules to block the hole, and then building up an impervious clot to stanch the flow.

That process relies on a set of molecules that constantly flow through the body's veins and arteries, just waiting to spring into action when needed. When their job is done, they dissolve back into the blood, awaiting their next repair job.

A team of MIT researchers has analyzed the process and found, for the first time, exactly how the different molecular components work together to block the flow of blood from a cut. Now, they are working on applying that knowledge to the development of synthetic materials that could be used to control different kinds of liquid flows, and could lead to a variety of new self-assembling materials.

Read more:

Video: Melanie Gonick, MIT News
Computer simulations: Hsieh Chen