Scientists Invent Particles That Will Let You Live Without Breathing

I’m seldom taken back by developments in science and technology these days; notwithstanding my passion for keeping abreast of the latest – but this development, in terms of its practical application and sheer genius stands to be considered one of the most significant developments in emergency medicine.

A team at the Boston Children’s Hospital have developed an injectable fluid that’ll allow medical teams to keep a patient’s blood oxygenated for 15-30 minutes without functioning lungs. The idea is that this’ll give doctors enough time to work with a patient without risking a heart attack or permanent brain injury.

The fluid contains lipid (fats) encased microparticles of oxygen which function to deliver oxygen to the blood and the rest of the body when normal breathing isn’t possible. The microparticle solutions are easily transportable and can help stabilize patients until medical professionals can effect more effective solutions.

In the studies reported in the paper, they used a device called a sonicator, which uses high-intensity sound waves to mix the oxygen and lipids together. The process traps oxygen gas inside particles averaging 2 to 4 micrometers in size (not visible without a microscope). The resulting solution, with oxygen gas making up 70 percent of the volume, mixed efficiently with human blood.

 

This technique of oxygen gas delivery was attempted in the 1900’s but failed due to not having a large enough surface area created by the bubbles to facilitate gas exchange. Also, the bubbles often got stuck in capillaries and caused gas embolisms. Ouch.

The new technique is an advance by using lipids to encase the oxygen, which is easily deformed and integrated into cell membranes, facilitating gas exchange.

A simple process and technique, but it’s often the simplest solutions that prove the most effective where biology and health are at play. The ingenuity is simply…astounding!

Read the full release on Science Daily.

This may seem like something out of a science fiction movie: researchers have designed microparticles that can be injected directly into the bloodstream to quickly oxygenate your body, even if you can’t breathe anymore. It’s one of the best medical breakthroughs in recent years, and one that could save millions of lives every year.

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