The Week (US)

A breath of not-so-fresh air


Scientists have come up with an unorthodox way of saving oxygen-starved mammals: pumping oxygen into their anus. Takanori Takebe, of the Tokyo Medical and Dental University, started seeking ways for humans to receive oxygen other than mechanical ventilatio­n after watching his father struggle with lung disease. Taking inspiratio­n from fish that use gills underwater but take gulps of air above the surface, Takebe sought to establish whether a mammal’s intestines could absorb oxygen. He and his colleagues found that oxygen-deprived

mice survived longer when oxygen gas was pumped into their anus, but the effect was limited. They then added oxygen to a liquid compound that can absorb large amounts of gas. When they squirted this mixture into the rectums of oxygendepr­ived mice and pigs, the animals’ oxygen levels quickly recovered. The mice started walking; the pigs’ pale skin regained its pinkish hue. Takebe wasn’t expecting such a dramatic effect. “They are completely recovering from very, very severe hypoxia,” he tells The New York Times. “That was really astonishin­g to me.” He is hoping to begin clinical trials on humans as early as next year.

 ??  ?? It can be revived via the rectum.
It can be revived via the rectum.

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