(source: airforcetimes.com) – By Charlsy Panzino – Air Force special ops medics to test freeze-dried plasma on the battlefield

Plasma makes up more than half of a person’s blood, and its clotting properties help stop bleeding — which is why medics carry the precious liquid, in frozen form, on the battlefield.

Frozen plasma needs to be kept cold, however, and lugging a freezer in combat isn’t exactly practical. That’s why the Defense Department is working on bringing freeze-dried plasma to the U.S..

This type of plasma doesn’t need to be kept cold and is also more stable than frozen plasma. Since the Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved a U.S.-sourced product yet, the military is using French-manufactured freeze-dried plasma in a joint effort to bring the technique to the States.

And Air Force Special Operations Command is part of this effort.

Lt. Col. Rebecca Carter, chief of AFSOC’s medical modernization, said the command will receive 25 units of the product from France under the FDA’s Investigational New Drug protocol. This allows the Air Force to receive the product before it receives FDA approval.

The use of freeze-dried plasma, however, is not new.

“[The U.S.] used it in World War II,” Carter said. “At the time, we did not have as reliable and accurate methods of donor screening for the blood supply,” which increased the possibility of infection.

France received approval for freeze-dried plasma from its FDA equivalent in 1994, and now the United States is working on its own approval.

Once the AFSOC medical team receives its supply of French freeze-dried plasma this month, it will be ready to deploy when needed and used to treat special operations airmen on the battlefield, Carter said. (…)

“The French product is really a bridge product for special operations forces to get to the U.S.-sourced product,” she said. “The larger [Defense Department] community has a team of research and development professionals that are supporting projects to ensure we do have U.S.-sourced [freeze-dried plasma].”

Carter said it will probably take up to five years before the U.S. has its own freeze-dried plasma product. (…)

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Photo Credit: Airman 1st Class Haley D. Phillips/Air Force