March 22, 2022 — The human physique wants lots of oxygen: a few cup a minute, simply to remain alive.
If we are able to’t get the quantity we’d like due to harm or illness, like COVID-19, our our bodies shortly begin to undergo from oxygen deprivation. After only a few minutes, abnormally low oxygen ranges within the blood can harm the mind and different organs, and even trigger dying.
Now, researchers at Boston Kids’s Hospital have developed a tool that may inject oxygen straight into the bloodstream by means of an IV. They haven’t examined it in individuals but, however a new examine describes testing it out in rats. If the researchers finally get it to work for individuals, the strategy might stop extreme oxygen loss and lung accidents from ventilators, they are saying.
Although the know-how is much from prepared for testing in individuals, the take a look at run with the rats “is a pleasant proof of idea,” says John Kheir, MD, a physician within the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at Boston Kids’s Hospital who’s main the work on the brand new gadget.
At present, sufferers who need assistance to breathe get oxygen by means of a nasal cannula, a ventilator, or, in essentially the most extreme instances, by ECMO, a machine that takes out an individual’s blood to pump carbon dioxide out and oxygen in earlier than placing it again into their physique.
Whereas all these approaches save lives, ventilators can damage the lungs if used for a very long time, and ECMO has a excessive threat of an infection. If docs might put oxygen straight right into a affected person’s blood by means of an IV, it might doubtlessly scale back the necessity for different methods to provide oxygen, or make them safer.
Sooner or later, Kheir and his staff hope this know-how may very well be a method to give sufferers simply sufficient oxygen to maintain them going. “It provides sufferers extra time and makes them extra steady to go on ECMO,” he says, which might take quarter-hour at the perfect hospitals to over an hour at others.
How It Works: Oxygen Emulsion
To organize the oxygen to be injected into the bloodstream, the researchers put it into the gadget together with a fluid containing phospholipids, a kind of fats present in your cell membranes.
The fuel and fluid transfer by means of nozzles of reducing measurement to create tiny nano-bubbles of oxygen with a phospholipid coating — all smaller than a single pink blood cell. The brand new emulsion, a fluid filled with tiny bubbles, is then injected into the bloodstream.
The phospholipid packaging and tiny measurement of the bubbles are essential to giving the oxygen safely.
You possibly can’t simply inject oxygen into the bloodstream straight as a result of it would make an air bubble that would block a blood vessel, like what occurs when divers get the bends after coming again to the floor too shortly after diving, says Peyman Benharash, MD, a coronary heart surgeon and director of the Grownup ECMO Program at UCLA.
With this new nanotechnology strategy, “the balls of oxygen are trapped in fats and slowly launched to forestall the bends from occurring,” he says.
The way in which the brand new know-how works “could be very easy, so it may very well be scalable,” Benharash says.
Fewer than 5% of hospitals have ECMO machines, he says. One thing simpler to make use of, like this know-how, might doubtlessly supply life-saving oxygen to extra individuals in additional distant locations.
Whereas the remedy is attention-grabbing, Benharash says, “it’s not prepared by any means for prime time or use in sufferers.” Subsequent, he says, he’d prefer to see how the gadget works in bigger animals for longer durations of time.
Because the researchers maintain engaged on their gadget, Kheir says, they should scale it as much as present no less than 10 instances extra oxygen, and make it extra reliable.