New injectable, gas-filled microparticles allow person to breathe for up to 30 minutes without, ehhh, breathing

// October 26th, 2012 // Medical News


MicroparticlesResearchers at Boston Children’s Hospital have developed tiny, gas-filled microparticles that can be injected directly into the blood system to quickly oxygenate blood providing vital oxygen to the patient for up to 30 minutes per injection.  The microparticles are made from a single layer of fatty molecules (lipids) that encapsulate a tiny pocket of oxygen gas (about 3-4 times the content of our own red blood cells).  Injection of the microparticles, which are so small, they can pass through capillaries where free gas would get stuck, restore oxygen levels in the person within seconds and keep the person alive for up to 30 minutes without taking a breath.  The microparticles are not simply carriers for oxygen – they are designed to oxygenate the person’s body even if the lungs are not functioning properly.

The microparticle solution is designed to be quickly administered to patients in life-threatening situations buying time for paramedics or doctors to install a more permanent breathing apparatus.

“Eventually, this could be stored in syringes on every code cart in a hospital, ambulance or transport helicopter to help stabilize patients who are having difficulty breathing.”

The method to create the microparticles is ingenious.  According to Life Science:

“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.”

Sources: Life Science
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