Intravenous oxygen delivery
Portable and fast-acting, Kheir’s injectable solution could help stabilize patients in emergency situations—situations like the one Jordan faced in 2006. “This project is unique in that it was completely inspired by a patient experience,” Kheir asserts, emphasizing the clear clinical focus that guided his research.
Looking back on his work, Kheir says that he was “surprised by how difficult it is to make something new… Every piece of equipment, every measurement, every amount of chemical, every subtle nuance to an experiment matters. You cannot do good science without exquisite attention to detail,” he explains.
Also, he says, you cannot do quality research without removing the “disconnect” between researchers and clinicians and forging collaborations between departments and disciplines. “One of the great advantages of working in a large institution like BCH is that the needs and skills necessary for a project like this can be put together in the same place,” he says.
Kheir says he’s received invaluable assistance from medical doctors, scientists, engineers and technicians from throughout Boston Children’s. Much-needed help has also come from the hospital’s Technology & Innovation Development Office (TIDO). TIDO, he says, has provided necessary funding, and “we’ve filed six patents together. It’s been a great collaboration.”
Work on oxygenation continues. Kheir says his team has completed several proof-of-concept studies and is now addressing questions that must be answered before intravenous oxygen delivery can move from the laboratory to the clinic. These questions center on finding the optimum storage capacity for the microparticle and determining the appropriate timing for injecting oxygen into a patient.
When will injectable oxygen be ready for real-world use? Kheir can’t say for sure, but “every time we de-risk something and move closer, I get more optimistic that it will on a three-to-five-year timetable,” he says.
“But,” Kheir states, “close isn’t done. Close is close.” And, he adds, “Until we have something in our hands that we’re sure will work, I can’t say when it will be ready.”
But one thing he can say for sure is that bridging the gap between clinical necessity and academic interest has brought his work this far—and that’s a long way.