Oxygen is great, you guys – it’s pretty important to sustaining organic life and does particularly great things for us humans. The small caveat, though, is that we need to be able to breathe in order to make use of our atmospheric oxygen; if you can’t – a collapsed lung or blocked windpipe, say – you’d typically be out of luck. Until now.
Scientists have developed a new microparticle filled with oxygen that can be injected into the blood stream, keeping you alive even if you can’t intake air into your lungs. The microparticles are actually tiny capsules (2-4 micrometers tiny) made of a single layer of lipids surrounding a small bubble of oxygen gas. The capsule is suspended in a liquid so that the bubbles don’t get any bigger (which would make them deadly, FYI).
Upon injecting the capsule-filled liquid into the bloodstream, the capsules crash into your red blood cells, transferring the oxygen gas from the capsule to the cell. About 70% of the oxygen injected successfully makes its way into the blood stream this way. This injection method was so successful that the scientists managed to keep rabbits with blocked windpipes alive for fifteen whole minutes.
My question is, if you could just have a steady stream of these capsules injected into your blood, could you just stay underwater forever? Grab me one of those awesome mermaid tails and sign me up!