Oxygen. In a medical emergency, getting a patient oxygen can be a matter of life and death.

This may seem like something out of a science fiction movie: researchers have designed microparticles that can be injected directly into the bloodstream to quickly oxygenate your body, even if you can’t breathe anymore. It’s one of the best medical breakthroughs in recent years, and one that could save millions of lives every year.

Air-bubbles-provide-oxygen

But thanks to an invention by a team of scientists at Boston’s Children Hospital, the medical community may have a quick fix for such situations: a particle that allows humans to live without breathing, the hospital notes.

This finding has the potential to save millions of lives every year. The microparticles can keep an object alive for up to 30 min after respiratory failure. This is accomplished through an injection into the patients’ veins. Once injected, the microparticles can oxygenate the blood to near normal levels. This has countless potential uses as it allows life to continue when oxygen is needed but unavailable. For medical personnel, this is just enough time to avoid risking a heart attack or permanent brain injury when oxygen is restricted or cut off to patients.

The solution has already been successfully tested on animals under critical lung failure. When the doctors injected this liquid into the patient’s veins, it restored oxygen in their blood to near-normal levels, granting them those precious additional minutes of life.

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Particles of fat and oxygen

The particles are composed of oxygen gas pocketed in a layer of lipids, a natural molecule that usually stores energy or serves as a component to cell membranes. Lipids can be waxes, some vitamins, monoglycerides, diglycerides, triglycerides, phospholipids, or—as in this case—fats.

These fatty oxygen particles are about two to four micrometers in size. They are suspended in a liquid solution that can be easily carried and used by paramedics, emergency crews and intensive care personnel. This seemingly magic elixir carries “three to four times the oxygen content of our own red blood cells.”

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Potential future uses

Medical: There is the obvious medical uses where the microparticles can be used to save off death from a restriction in breathing due to inflammation of the lungs, collapsed lungs, and the like. It would be good to have these injections ready in hospitals and ambulances for when the time is needed.

Military: Can you imagine a navy seals capability when they wouldn’t need to surface for air and could stay underwater for over 20 minutes? If a boat was to begin to sink, you could shoot yourself as the boat is going down to ensure you aren’t drowned in the under current of the sinking vessel. How about for toxic gases when a facemask is unavailable. The military could have a number of uses for such a medical advancement.

Private Sector: Really this can be used as a precaution for anything nautical where the potential to drown is a real danger. Deep sea rescue crews could inject themselves prior to making a rescue, underwater welders can use it in case they become stuck or air is lost to their suits. The potential use for anything water related seems extremely worthwhile.

This is what the future is about. And it’s a beautiful one indeed, one that is arriving earlier than we ever could have expected.