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Dogs learn breathing underwater as Russian scientists test liquid respirational technology

July 19, 15:25 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The liquid breathing technology entails filling human lungs with liquid rich in oxygen, which gets into the blood system
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© AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

MOSCOW, July 19. /TASS/. Russia’s Advanced Research Fund has started testing liquid breathing technology for submariners with the help of dogs, Fund Deputy General Director Vitaly Davydov told TASS Tuesday.

"We are already holding live tests. We began with mice and other small animals. Now, we are carrying out experiments on large animals. Dogs are acting as testers," Davydov said.

The liquid breathing technology entails filling human lungs with liquid rich in oxygen, which gets into the blood system.

The Advanced Research Fund’s scientific and technical council approved the liquid breathing project in spring and work is being carried out by the Research Institute of Labor Medicine. Under this project, researchers are expected to develop a special outfit suitable not only for submariners but also for pilots and astronauts.

According to the Advanced Research Fund’s deputy general director, the researchers created a special capsule for dogs and immersed it into a hydraulic chamber with increased pressure. For now, dogs can breathe for half an hour at a depth of up to 500 meters without any health consequences, Davydov said.

"All of the canine tester have survived and feel well after ‘submergence’ and lengthy liquid breathing session," the Advanced Research Fund deputy head said.

"Normally, laboratory personnel take the dogs to their homes or give them to their acquaintances after the trials," he added.

Liquid breathing technology needs to be developed to rescue submarine crews from vast depths, this project is essential for all countries operating submarine fleets, Davydov said.

"Caisson disease presents a major problem, which may cause submariners’ deaths, should they surface too quickly during their autonomous ascent. If gas mixtures are used for breathing to avoid Caisson’s disease, they need to surface slowly, for hours. Meanwhile, someone who is wounded and requiring urgent medical aid faces the danger of simply freezing to death at vast depths. Therefore, a different method has to be found to fill the body system with oxygen," the Advanced Research Fund deputy chief said.

The method of filling human lungs with liquid rich in oxygen had been proposed as a solution several decades ago but no practical application has ever been created, Davydov said.

Carrying out the project requires finding a formula for a proper liquid and creating the technology to inject it into and withdraw it from the body, ensuring the removal of carbon dioxide, and solving the problem of medication support, he said.

"A psychological barrier will also have to be overcome, a person would actually have to suffocate in water voluntarily to start breathing with the liquid filling his lungs," the Advanced Research Fund deputy head said.

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