Injectable particles let you live without breathing!

Researchers have recently created micro-particles that quickly oxygenate the body when injected into the blood stream, even if you have stopped breathing.  This fantastic medical advancement could potentially save millions of lives a year.

 (credit: D. Kunkel/Dennis Kunkel Microscopy Inc., D. Bell/Harvard University, J. Kheir/Boston Children’s Hospital, C. Porter/Chris Porter Illustration)

This new invention has been successfully tested on animals that have suffered critical lung failure.  When the particles were injected the blood’s oxygen levels returned to close to normal, adding precious minutes of life.

These new particles were designed by a research team at Boston Children’s Hospital to keep patients alive for up to 30 minutes despite respiratory failure.    These particles could potentially decrease permanent brain damage due to hypoxia (oxygen deprivation), lower the risk of associated cardiac arrests and allow doctors more critical time to treat patients after lung failure has occurred.

The particles measure 2-4 micrometers in diameter and are made of layers of lipids that pocket oxygen molecules.   These particles have 3-4 times the normal oxygen carrying capacity of our red blood cells.  The particles have been suspended in a solution that can be easily carried by doctors, nurses and paramedics. 

The idea of an injectable oxygenated solution came from John Kheir, MD from Boston’s Children’s Hospital, after he treated a little girl in 2006 for a lung hemorrhage caused by pneumonia.  Before Kheir and his medical team could get the girl into a heart-lung machine she sustained severe brain damage from lack of oxygen, which eventually led to her death.

Commenting on the development of the particles, Kheir said “Some of the most convincing experiments were the early ones. We drew each other’s blood, mixed it in a test tube with the micro particles, and watched blue blood turn immediately red, right before our eyes.”

I am interested to see what other applications this life-giving elixir can be used for.  What about equipment free scuba-diving?  Perhaps you might even be able to dive deeper than before, as you would not need to breathe gas under pressure, the cause of the bends. 

What about space travel?  Climbing Everest?  I suppose we will have to wait and see.  To begin with, it will be great to see these micro particles save some lives!

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One Response to “Injectable particles let you live without breathing!”

  1. Phuong says:

    Wow that is pretty cool! But what happens to the lipids in the blood stream once all of the oxygen is used up?