March 22, 2022 — The human physique wants a variety of oxygen: a few cup a minute, simply to remain alive.
If we will’t get the quantity we’d like due to damage or illness, like COVID-19, our our bodies shortly begin to undergo from oxygen deprivation. After just some minutes, abnormally low oxygen ranges within the blood can injury the brain and different organs, and even trigger loss of life.
Now, researchers at Boston Kids’s Hospital have developed a tool that may inject oxygen immediately into the bloodstream by way of an IV. They haven’t examined it in folks but, however a new study describes testing it out in rats. If the researchers ultimately get it to work for folks, the method might stop extreme oxygen loss and lung injuries from ventilators, they are saying.
Although the know-how is much from prepared for testing in folks, 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 system.
Presently, sufferers who need assistance to breathe get oxygen by way of a nasal cannula, a ventilator, or, in probably the most extreme circumstances, 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 danger of an infection. If medical doctors might put oxygen immediately right into a affected person’s blood by way of an IV, it might doubtlessly scale back the necessity for different methods to offer oxygen, or make them safer.
Sooner or later, Kheir and his crew hope this know-how might be a option to give sufferers simply sufficient oxygen to maintain them going. “It offers sufferers extra time and makes them extra steady to go on ECMO,” he says, which may take quarter-hour at the very best 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 system together with a fluid containing phospholipids, a sort of fat present in your cell membranes.
The gas and fluid transfer by way of nozzles of reducing dimension to create tiny nano-bubbles of oxygen with a phospholipid coating — all smaller than a single purple blood cell. The brand new emulsion, a fluid filled with tiny bubbles, is then injected into the bloodstream.
The phospholipid packaging and tiny dimension of the bubbles are vital to giving the oxygen safely.
You’ll be able to’t simply inject oxygen into the bloodstream immediately as a result of it’s going to make an air bubble that might 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 method, “the balls of oxygen are trapped in fats and slowly launched to forestall the bends from occurring,” he says.
The best way the brand new know-how works “could be very simple, so it might 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 folks 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 wish to see how the system works in bigger animals for longer durations of time.
Because the researchers maintain engaged on their system, Kheir says, they should scale it as much as present at the very least 10 occasions extra oxygen, and make it extra reliable.