New York University student Joe Landolina created Veti-gel from plant polymers that mimic the human extracellular matrix, a substance produced by the body that sets off the process of blood clot formation.

Joe Landolina may not be the next Mark Zuckerberg, but he might have found his billion-dollar idea. And unlike Zuckerberg, Landolina could save millions of lives before he’s old enough to drink.

Landolina, a 20-year-old junior at New York University, created a gel from plant polymers that mimics the human extracellular matrix, a substance produced by the body that sets off the process of blood clot formation. He calls it Veti-Gel.

When applied to an open wound, Veti-Gel bonds to the surrounding flesh, forming a tight seal. Not only does the gel initiate the blood clotting process, it also speeds healing.

Landolina says he’s been able to instantly halt bleeding in mice with sliced livers and punctured carotid arteries during lab tests. He’s even posted a rather gruesome YouTube video (featuring a pork loin-ectomy) to prove it.

“I have seen [Veti-Gel] close any size wound that it is applied to,” Landolina told TechNewsDaily. “As long as you can cover it, it can close it.”

Landolina and fellow New York University undergraduate Isaac Miller have founded a company called Suneris, Inc. as a vehicle to bring Veti-Gel to market.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, better known as DARPA, last year funded research into an injectable foam that applies pressure in the abdominal cavity to stop bleeding after a blast injury. Veti-Gel may do for external wounds what DARPA’s foam can for internal ones.

Veti-Gel has several distinct advantages over other products currently used by first responders and battlefield medics. It can be stored at room temperature, it forms a protective coating over the wound to stop bleeding without the need to apply pressure, and it may even help heal first- and second-degree burns.

The U.S. military now uses a product called QuickClot—a piece of gauze soaked in the drying agent kaolin. However, applying QuickClot requires putting several minutes of steady pressure on the wound.

Floseal, a product used by hospitals to slow bleeding during surgery is similar in application to Veti-Gel, but is made of a gelatin derived from cow parts, which angers animal rights advocates.

According to TechNewsDaily, Landolina is designing experiments to test Veti-Gel against these other products, and may have results by summer 2013. He has also applied for a patent and begun the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval process, and he hopes to contract with the U.S. Department of Defense in the future.

This wunderkind could make a fortune from his invention, but the main beneficiaries of his potentially life-saving product are accident victims, combat troops, and surgical patients.