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A Liquid Injection Could Help People Who Have Trouble Breathing


Inspired in part by aquatic animals who can absorb oxygen, a Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center researcher has developed an innovative way to breathe for those in respiratory distress.

The idea to deliver an enema-like treatment filled with highly oxygenized liquid to people having trouble breathing is getting worldwide attention for Takanori Takebe, MD, Ph.D., who is also associated with the Tokyo Medical and Dental University.

This would potentially help pneumonia patients and people with COVID-19 to "breathe" through their intestines. It's an alternative to a ventilator which causes stress on the lungs and can lead to lung disorders.

With this new treatment, "The blood vessels suck up the liquids, then accumulate carbon dioxide which is a consequence of respiratory failure, and carbon dioxide is eliminated from the body to the liquids," says Takebe.

The scientist has already published his early success with mice and pigs in the May 14, 2021 Journal Med.

Two approaches, including a gas ventilation system, were used on the animals. The gas ventilation system helped 75% of mice survive 50 minutes of normally lethal low-oxygen conditions, while no mice survived more than 11 minutes without assistance, according to a Cincinnati Children's blog.

The intestinal liquid ventilation system (the most likely for people) showed rodents and pigs could walk farther and more oxygen was reaching their hearts.

More research is needed to determine the safety and dosage. It appears COVID patients might need up to six injections a day. Each injection could cost $10,000-20,000, according to Takebe.

He is preparing to start clinical studies next year and hopes to get approval for the treatment in two years.

Credit Cincinnati Children's