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A mineral that helps breathe and live

Health, Medicine, Science

The effects of pleural effusion were reduced with foamed talcum powder.
A team of scientists from Kazan Federal University, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Drexel in Philadelphia, created and tested a new dosage form - talcum foam based on hydrogel, which helps to deal with pleural effusion faster and more efficiently. Research by Russian scientists is supported by a grant from the Presidential Program for Research Projects of the Russian Science Foundation.

The lungs are surrounded by two shells - pleura. One lining the inside of the chest, and the other, like a wrapper, placed the lungs. A small amount of the so-called pleural fluid is distributed between these membranes in a healthy person. It provides a connection between the two pleura, due to which the lungs expand and contract together with the respiratory movements of the chest. However, too much pleural fluid destroys the connection of the membranes: the pulmonary wrap extrudes inward, the fluid begins to put pressure on the lungs, which leads to shortness of breath. In some patients with cancer and tuberculosis, this effect, called the “pleural effusion,” is observed.

After pumping out excess fluid, it is necessary to reduce the risk of its re-accumulation and to ensure reverse adhesion of the shells. As one of the methods last year, British scientists proposed introducing a suspension of talc in physiological saline into the pleural cavity. Athletes often use talcum powder to better grip the projectile so that their hands do not sweat or slip. However, the success of treatment with such a “powder” varied greatly depending on the individual characteristics of the patients.

To increase the effectiveness of the method, an international team of scientists created a new dosage form based on foamed hydrogel - a polymer that absorbs a large amount of water. Such a foam, as scientists suggest, will help to evenly distribute talcum powder between the pleura. Compared to the suspension, the new dosage form allows not only to regain adhesion of the membranes, but also to reduce the volume of repeated pleural effusion and, as a result, reduce lung damage. Mice that artificially activated the accumulation of excess fluid were divided into three groups of six animals. The first was a suspension of talcum powder, the second a talcum foam, and the control group — saline or talc-free foam. The life span of sick mice when using talc foam increased.

“Hydrogel foam has many advantages over a suspension of talc. It glues the pleura better with the same volume of administration, due to which the volume of the pleural cavity is reduced more effectively - by 25% compared with a suspension of talc. It is also important that due to greater efficiency after the introduction of hydrogel foam it is not necessary to leave the tube for a long time for repeated injections and pumping out the liquid. This reduces the risk of pleural inflammation and air entering the pleural cavity. In the future, we plan to conduct experiments with foam, which has improved physicochemical characteristics, such as viscosity and melting point, including on larger experimental animals, ”says Ph.D., senior researcher at the Department of Biochemistry, Institute of Fundamental Medicine and Biology (IFMiB) Kazan Federal University Alexander Deneka.

The project was also attended by employees of the Fox Chase Cancer Center (Philadelphia, USA), the Cleveland Clinic (Ohio, USA) and the Hahnemann Clinic of Drexel University (Philadelphia, USA).