Scientists at Boston, Massachusetts have developed a type of oxygen-filled microparticle which can be directly injected into a patient’s bloodstream to supply their cells with oxygen in the event that they are unable to breathe.
Photo: Vector Blog
Work began in 2006, initiated by Dr John Kheir, to find a method of delivering oxygen immediately into a patients body to stabilise their condition, to allow the time to transport them to a more able facility or prepare long term equipment. Differing from blood substitutes by being inured with their own, premixed, oxygen supply, the microparticles raise poorly oxygenated blood to near normal levels within seconds of administration, and could even be used to supply oxygen to respiratory obstructed patients for between 15 and 30 minutes, based off animal trials. If used for any longer, the transport fluid would build up in the bloodstream in a manner that the body would be unable to disperse. However, that half hour leeway would be invaluable breathing space to doctors, surgeons and paramedics alike to treat people with collapsed lungs, or blocked windpipes.
Around 70% of the stored volume of the microparticles consisted of bound oxygen, with the remainder made up of the lipid based storage medium. The two substances are bound to each other with a device called a sonicator, which saturates the mixture with high intensity sound waves to bind them together for storage and use. Once joined, the microparticles, which average 0.002 to 0.004 mm in size, have up to four times the oxygen storing capabilities of our own red blood cells. Their molecular structure can be very easily deformed, allowing for the greater gas storage and for the passage through tight capillaries without causing obstructions.
The hope is that this oxygen solution will become widely available and be stored in pre-prepared needles aboard emergency response vehicles, on hospital wards, and in first aid kits.