US researchers develop new 'microbubble' technology for injured patients on battlefield


Researchers at the University of Nebraska and the University of Colorado Boulder are developing a new microbubble technology that could save lives on the battlefield.

The US Air Force (USAF) Surgeon General Office has awarded a $1.3m contract to the National Strategic Research Institute (NSRI) at the University of Nebraska for the project.

The project is aimed at developing a new medical treatment that will provide oxygen to patients whose lungs cannot function efficiently due to trauma.

The NSRI scientists are expecting to provide rapid oxygen delivery to injured patients, by using microbubble oxygenation technology.

The new technology is believed to provide adequate levels of blood oxygen during emergency transport from remote environments far from hospitals.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln assistant professor Benjamin Terry will design and develop a medical device to deliver oxygen microbubbles to patients.

Terry added: “Our system transforms the abdomen into a third lung, so to speak.

“Through a method of pumping and delivering oxygen microbubbles into the abdomen while removing dangerous carbon dioxide, the process delivers life-sustaining oxygen to the body's core, which is then circulated to the brain and other vital organs.”

Microbubbles are tiny bubbles that mimic the alveoli in the human lung by releasing oxygen to the body and simultaneously removing carbon-dioxide, according to the researchers.

"Microbubbles are tiny bubbles that mimic the alveoli in the human lung by releasing oxygen to the body and simultaneously removing carbon-dioxide, according to the researchers."

University of Colorado Boulder mechanical engineering associate professor Mark Borden said: “Once the oxygen has been delivered, the spent microbubbles can be safely removed from the peritoneal cavity within the abdomen.

“So we do not anticipate any long-term toxicity.”

The project also includes scaling up of manufacturing processes in order to rapidly generate oxygen microbubbles in large quantities for long-term storage and ready transport to the site of need.


Image: Mark Borden Lab in the mechanical engineering department at the University of Colorado Boulder. Photo: © Regents of the University of Colorado.