The Major Scientific Discovery You Probably Did Not Hear About: The Life Saving Oxygen Particle

It’s the year 2012 and by now many would have expected there to be hovercrafts and teleportation. 

Well, that may take a little while longer. But in the meantime there is a scientific breakthrough that, in my opinion, comes pretty close to a hovercraft.

The breakthrough comes from a group of researchers from Boston Children’s Hospital. Headed by Dr. John Kheir, his team has spent the past six years working on what is now known as an “oxygen particle.” 

Six years ago Dr. Kheir had a patient, a girl, who had severe pneumonia that caused blood to accumulate in her lungs, thus decreasing her oxygen levels. Despite all modern medicine had to offer, the girl died before Dr. Kheir and his team could put the young girl on a heart-lung machine.

This launched the search for a new avenue of oxygen delivery.

A century ago, scientists attempted to oxygenate patients directly through an IV as an alternative route. That method never was viable. Dr. Kheir and his team stuck with the intravenous concept, but changed how the oxygen would reach the blood stream by creating microparticles that are suspended in a solution. The particles consist of a lipid-based capsule and a pure oxygen gas core. Don’t think of these like pills however, the average size of one of these particles ranges between two and four micrometers in diameter.

When the scientists mixed the oxygen particles with blood, their research found that 70% of the oxygen had transferred into the blood in under 4 seconds. Trials were done on rabbits with a complete tracheal occlusion for 15 minutes, meaning they couldn't breathe for 15 minutes. The injection of the oxygen particles kept the animals alive and reduced hypoxia, cardiac arrest and organ injury occurrence in the rabbits. 

An injection of oxygen particles could be a genuine lifesaver in any emergency situation. Dr. Kheir suspects that his particle injections could keep a human, who is unable to breathe, alive for up to 30 minutes. What’s next? Time travel?

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Alexander M. Spring

Alexander Spring is from New York City. He is currently a sophomore at Tufts University in Medford, MA. Alex is a Cognitive and Brain Sciences major, Economics minor and is pre-med. Additionally, Alex writes for the Huffington Post as well as The Tufts Daily.

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