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Healing touch of liquid breath.

Animal tests indicate that a substance being developed as artificial blood (SN: 9/26/87, p. 200) may also substitute for the air that moves in and out of lungs. Perfluorocarbon liquid not only provides adequate gas exchange, but also helps heal damaged lung tissue, says Ronald B. Hirschl, a surgeon at the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor.

Even though ventilators can help people with lung problems breathe, about 40,000 people a year die of respiratory failure in the United States. "We don't have a good way of treating the lungs or [making] them better," Hirschl says.

So he evaluated the performance of this oxygen-carrying liquid in 12 sheep. Hirschl sedated the sheep, damaged their lungs, and made the airways collapse. He then placed six of the animals on typical gas ventilators and six on ventilators that circulated perfluorocarbon through the lungs. He measured how much oxygen entered the animals' blood and, 2V2 hours later, examined the lung tissue.

Perfluorocarbon provides two to three times as much oxygen as ventilation with air does, Hirschl reports. In addition, the lung tissue of the sheep treated with perfluorocarbon showed much less hemorrhaging and fluid buildup than the lung tissue of the other sheep.

The liquid seems to flush out "gunk" -- fluid filled with proteins and red and white blood cells, which seeps into the lungs and impedes gas exchange, says Hirschl. Perfluorocarbon reinflates collapsed airways and, because it is heavier than air, may cause blood flow to shift to undamaged airways.

Hirschl is seeking permission from the Food and Drug Administration to try this treatment in people.
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Title Annotation:perfluorocarbon liquid helps heal damaged lung tissue
Author:Pennisi, Elizabeth
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Apr 17, 1993
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