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Medicine Science

Scientists Keep Rabbits Alive With Oxygen Microparticle Injections 274

Posted by samzenpus
from the I've-been-using-my-lungs-like-a-sucker dept.
ananyo writes "Rabbits with blocked windpipes have been kept alive for up to 15 minutes without a single breath, after researchers injected oxygen-filled microparticles into the animals' blood. Oxygenating the blood by bypassing the lungs in this way could save the lives of people with impaired breathing or obstructed airways (abstract). In the past, doctors have tried to treat low levels of oxygen in the blood, or hypoxaemia, and related conditions such as cyanosis, by injecting free oxygen gas directly into the bloodstream. But oxygen injected in this way can accumulate into larger bubbles and form potentially lethal blockages."
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Scientists Keep Rabbits Alive With Oxygen Microparticle Injections

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  • by alexbgreat (1422591) * on Wednesday June 27, 2012 @10:07PM (#40474569)
    And with this...we're one step closer to the zombie apocalypse.
    • Or Night of the Lupus...

      Joking aside, this sounds seriously legit! Will ambulances be carrying around machines to inject this into people like an IV?
    • Re:One step closer (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Garridan (597129) on Wednesday June 27, 2012 @10:39PM (#40474761)
      Yeah... something tells me that "kept alive" means "killed" in this study.
    • Re:One step closer (Score:5, Insightful)

      by interkin3tic (1469267) on Wednesday June 27, 2012 @10:39PM (#40474767)
      You mean we're one step closer to the futurama head jars. Or gills for people maybe?

      On a more serious note, probably also a step closer to easier surgeries like lung transplants. Maybe a step toward treating cystic fibrosis.

      But zombies, absolutely not. There's nothing contagious here, and I thought zombies breathe. I mean, if they weren't using their lungs and windpipes, how are they always moaning... always moaning... day and night, keeping me awake... realizing that it's inevitable...
    • Just have to lock yourself in the bomb shelter with your MREs and wait for the zombies to rot. Then come-out and rebuild society.

      *
      *Anybody know where I can get cheap MREs?

  • The Matrix (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by retroworks (652802)
    Ok, that's what they were pumping into Neo's backbone... Right?
  • they had to use a carburetor.

    That's a way to make use of "new" technology.

    • Makes sense. The automotive carburetor came long after fuel injection and at the time was revolutionary for power production and fuel economy.

    • the internal combustion/electric engine "hybrid" was perfected in ww2 in submarines.

      They then figured out it could also work for cars 60 years later, and called it a breakthrough in technology.
      • by Jeremi (14640)

        They then figured out it could also work for cars 60 years later, and called it a breakthrough in technology.

        To be fair, the cost, size, weight, and safety standards are a little more stringent in the private passenger car market. I suspect the breakthroughs involved meeting those requirements.

      • by tibit (1762298)

        The "perfected" part is a figment of someone's imagination. The batteries were heavy as hell, and those diesel-electric boats had very limited electric range and speed. It was barely usable I'd say.

        Good luck making an electric car with, say, 100 mile electric range and lead-acid batteries. The technology simply wasn't there 60 years ago. Even if you could accept the outrageous weight and volume requirements, you still need electronics to do individual cell management. Lead-acid batteries need it too if you

      • There is far more truth in saying that the modern automatic transmission was "perfected" in the Model T Ford. It's epicyclic gearbox is very similar but it's not quite the same, so even then it would be almost as stupid a statement as the one above. Submarine and Toyota engines have a lot of differences even if there is a connecting idea. Deisel Locomotives are probably closer.
    • Its the opposite of a carburetor.
      it's not like they were squirting blood in to oxygen...
  • Lots of applications (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Grayhand (2610049) on Wednesday June 27, 2012 @10:18PM (#40474625)
    I can see this as a major help in organ transplants like lung and heart. Also there's a potential for cystic fibrosis since it bypasses the lungs.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by demonlapin (527802)
      No, it's not useful for those. You already have an established airway for those. And in CF, the lungs aren't often the killer, these days.
      • by tibit (1762298) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @02:22AM (#40475867)

        Established airway for a lung transplant? Huh? Sure you can use an external heart-lung machine, but the problem is always with hemolysis and clotting. Deleting the "lung-" part from the "heart-lung" machine would certainly help with both.

      • In CF (I have CF), most people do still die of upper respiratory infections, rejected lung transplants, or lung failure while waiting for a transplant.

  • by niftydude (1745144) on Wednesday June 27, 2012 @10:20PM (#40474635)
    This sure is better than having someone perform an emergency tracheotomy with a steak knife on you.
    • by demonlapin (527802) on Wednesday June 27, 2012 @10:29PM (#40474695) Homepage Journal
      The experimental solutions contained 50-90 mL of O2 per deciliter - to sustain an adult human, you need about 300 mL O2 per minute. At least 300 mL of IV fluid and as much as 600 mL per minute is going to have to go through one hell of an IV. I doubt you could achieve such infusion rates without specialized equipment (e.g., 8.5 French rapid infusion catheter + Level One pump) or multiple intraosseous needles.

      Furthermore, this is temporizing just like any other O2 delivery method. Oxygen is essential for life, but eventually you have to clear the CO2, or it's pointless. As a bridge to a secure airway or crash on to cardiopulmonary bypass? Sure, it's not a bad idea, except that the only thing that matters in that kind of life-or-death situation is how long it takes to get it in the room. By the time you get this stuff out of the refrigerator in pharmacy and run it to the OR, ER, or ICU, you could have gotten a surgeon there to do the cricothyrotomy or even a proper tracheostomy.
      • by Auroch (1403671) on Wednesday June 27, 2012 @10:57PM (#40474899)

        The experimental solutions contained 50-90 mL of O2 per deciliter - to sustain an adult human, you need about 300 mL O2 per minute. At least 300 mL of IV fluid and as much as 600 mL per minute is going to have to go through one hell of an IV. I doubt you could achieve such infusion rates without specialized equipment (e.g., 8.5 French rapid infusion catheter + Level One pump) or multiple intraosseous needles. Furthermore, this is temporizing just like any other O2 delivery method. Oxygen is essential for life, but eventually you have to clear the CO2, or it's pointless. As a bridge to a secure airway or crash on to cardiopulmonary bypass? Sure, it's not a bad idea, except that the only thing that matters in that kind of life-or-death situation is how long it takes to get it in the room. By the time you get this stuff out of the refrigerator in pharmacy and run it to the OR, ER, or ICU, you could have gotten a surgeon there to do the cricothyrotomy or even a proper tracheostomy.

        That's all technically true. I think the question you AREN'T asking is the most important one - what if you're not trying to sustain a human, but simply lengthen the amount of time before cell death? If I recall my first aid training (and I do), even an extra 10 minutes can be the difference between brain damage and 100% recovery.

    • by durrr (1316311)

      You won't do tracheotomies with steak knives, you'll do a cricotomy.

      • I can't believe everyone is taking my comment so seriously.
        Let me guess: You've never watched the Police Academy movies.
  • So what? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Digital Vomit (891734) on Wednesday June 27, 2012 @10:21PM (#40474639) Homepage Journal

    Scientists Keep Rabbits Alive With Oxygen Microparticle Injections

    So what? I have a pet rabbit that I can keep alive with regular oxygen particles.

    And I don't even have to inject them or anything. They just go into the holes in his face.

  • by v1 (525388) on Wednesday June 27, 2012 @10:27PM (#40474685) Homepage Journal

    CO2 must also be removed. that's probably what ultimately killed the rabbits.

    Besides overloading the red blood cells with CO2 and preventing the removal from the cells, it also screws up the PH of the blood really quick. I assume that with this process it could get bad enough to lead to shock.

    Now what would be really cool would be if they could come up with a sold-state exchanger for CO2 to O2. Something like a fuel cell in reverse - create a chemical exchange from an electrical power. Implant that into a body and it could run on batteries instead of breathing. But I don't think that technology in that form currently exists. They have "rebreathers" but those are huge space-suit-size affairs and operate on a far more involved process.

    But I bet someone's working on it right now. Probably several someones.

    • by demonlapin (527802) on Wednesday June 27, 2012 @10:41PM (#40474785) Homepage Journal
      You can't turn CO2 + H2O into O2 + C(H2O) efficiently unless you're a plant, and you'd have to get the CO2 out of solution quickly (easy) and get more O2 back into solution quickly (hard).

      Rebreathers just scrub CO2 from the atmosphere and lock it up as a carbonate. They need not be particularly large, though - the CO2 scrubber on the GE (Datex-Ohmeda) ADU Carestation is about the same size as a pint glass. The rest of the system is the bulky part, and in most situations could actually be done without.
    • I don't think they -forgot- that, I think they just focused on one step at a time.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Auroch (1403671)

        I don't think they -forgot- that, I think they just focused on one step at a time.

        Gee Karl, did you forget to remove the CO2 from my kid's pet rabbit? It went all floppy after I gave it back to him.

        Sorry Stan, It must have slipped my mind. Good for science, though!

        You're right Karl, look at me still talking when there's science to be done.

    • by jo_ham (604554)

      Breaking two C-O pi bonds and two C-O sigma bonds to form an O-O sigma and pi... That's going to be an energy expensive process.

      CO2 > O2 +C

      Energies in kJ/mol^-1
      1x O=O: 498
      2x C=O: 2*(803) = 1606

      So you're putting in about 1600 kJ/mol and getting back 498 kJ/mol, plus some carbon, so you need to find about 1100 kJ/mol of energy from your battery.

      I think there's a reason that plants don't bother cracking CO2 right down into O2! Plus, what do you do with the solid carbon? Would you have to keep changing a fil

    • Cruel experiment (Score:3, Insightful)

      by exploder (196936)

      Yeah, about the CO2 thing...you know that visceral panic you feel when you can't breathe? It's not triggered by lack of oxygen, but rather by excess CO2. I'm sure dying from asphyxiation is unpleasant enough, but having the experience dragged out to fifteen minutes (or more, once the methods are improved) must be horrific.

  • But will Lance Armstrong submit to a blood test for oxygen microparticles?
  • Lame (Score:4, Interesting)

    by lessthan (977374) on Wednesday June 27, 2012 @11:21PM (#40475039)

    Why, why, why are these stories always "save peoples lives" angled? How cool would it be to dive with this stuff running in your veins? I bet the liquid is incompressible too. I wonder what the ratio of volume of the liquid versus how much oxygen contained within it is.

    • It's shells of lipid (fat) around gaseous oxygen, so it should be compressible.

    • Re:Lame (Score:4, Informative)

      by Orgasmatron (8103) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @01:36AM (#40475641)

      Well, liquids aren't compressible in general, so I suspect that is already covered.

      The problem with diving isn't the blood, it is the lungs, and later (when you resurface) the difference in solubility of various gasses in your tissues under different pressures.

      The amount of, for example, nitrogen that can dissolve into your blood (again, for example) depends on the pressure. As the pressure goes up, more can dissolve. As the pressure goes down, less can dissolve, which means that when you surface, nitrogen dissolved in your body can suddenly reappear as a gas bubble which requires many times the volume that it took while dissolved. In a joint, or long muscle or fat, this can be painful. In an important artery or in your heart or other important organ (most of them), this can be fatal.

    • by Jeremi (14640)

      Why, why, why are these stories always "save peoples lives" angled? How cool would it be to dive with this stuff running in your veins?

      Dunno if I'd want to have to inject myself with a hypodermic every 3 minutes while diving. On the other hand, if there was a pill I could swallow that would somehow release oxygen into my bloodstream via the intestines, that would be pretty cool. As a bonus it could double as a propulsion device.

  • by SlowGenius (231663) on Wednesday June 27, 2012 @11:48PM (#40475157) Homepage
    Nothing new/useful to see here. Move along, move along. Feel free to Google "ECMO" as you're heading out the door....
  • Why 15 minutes? Weren't they confident they could keep the bunnies alive indefinitely?

    What happens after 15 minutes? How are the microparticles cleared from the body after the oxygen in them is used up? How fast can they be absorbed and does is it too slow for the rate at which the body uses oxygen. (I suspect that's the root of the time limit.

    • by dbIII (701233)
      At a guess it's because getting oxygen into the body is only one half of respiration.
  • by Majik Sheff (930627) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @12:51AM (#40475435) Journal

    You think waterboarding is torture? Wait until some goon figures out how to use this technique to allow them to keep their victim alive as they experience their own suffocation. Over. and. Over.

  • Sometimes when they lengthen the lives of rats or cure them of cancer I think it must be nice to be a lab rat. Certainly much better than being a lab rabbit apparently.

  • by snsh (968808) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @10:55AM (#40478649)

    This is just in time for the Olympics. Let's see how well Phelps can keep up with microparticle enhanced bubble-head mariners.

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