[ Tools for Researchers] August 28, 2019
Unraveling the winding path of research
Building a more complete understanding of the research life-cycle and attempting to shorten its span is a significant part of what we do at Morressier. Original research can take years to make its way into a scientific publication, and for too long these early stages were mostly invisible to the broader research community.
We are delighted to hear of success stories about posters hosted on our platform that went on to become journal articles, as it helps uncover the value of our contributions to the world of conferences and science more generally. We recently had a chance to speak with Lara Oller, a biomedical researcher from Spain, about what motivates her to pursue her field of study and the research process from poster to paper.
Morressier: How did you start researching? What inspired you?
Oller: When I was 12 years old, I watched a DVD on how to perform complex surgeries without blood transfusions. I became immediately enthralled and decided that I wanted to help in this field. In order to achieve this, I went on to study medicine at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, and I did my training specialization in anaesthesia starting in 2012 at Hospital Universitario La Paz in Madrid. Anaesthesiologists are specialists on oxygen transport physiology and once I had a deep understanding of how oxygen is delivered to cells, some questions arose and became the basis of what eventually became the poster I presented at the Euroanaesthesia conference in 2016. As my research developed, trials with pigs followed, which I worked on during my vacations and free time. The initial results were positive, and in time, the trials made their way to Australia.
Morressier: Briefly describe what Oxsealife is and its significance:
Oller: Oxsealife is an innovative fluid designed to treat the core issue of bleeding patients. I’ll give an example to explain how it works. If my body is like a city and red blood cells are like cars, the main avenues of the city would be equivalent to large vessels and the smaller streets to capillaries, the smallest vessels in the body. If I want to allow people to continue with their lives - meaning, if I want to restore cell function - I have to re-open the smaller streets instead of leaving main avenues packed with cars. Oxsealife has components that, when infused intravenously, generate a gas that opens closed capillaries, the smaller streets. When a street is closed, dirt accumulates; therefore, if I want to bring it back to life, I first have to clean it and neutralize all the detritus generated over time. Oxsealife has components that can sweep through residuals.
In cities we do not only have cars as a means of transport but also bicycles, sidewalks... in a similar way, red blood cells are not the only source of oxygen delivery to the cells. If we look at capillaries, red blood cells not only circulate through, but also dissolved oxygen in the fluid portion of blood. Oxsealife is able to increase the amount of dissolved oxygen in the fluid portion of blood and make this oxygen available for cell use.
At the moment, doctors use donated blood to save bleeding patients, but the effect is limited. With Oxsealife we are addressing most of the issues associated with severe bleeding that relate to survival. By further developing this treatment, we hope to improve survival rates and outcomes.
Morressier: How long have you been researching Oxsealife? How did you get involved in this topic?
Oller: An article I read inspired me to look into this research topic more closely. My mentor and associate, Aryeh Shander, has been a key asset from the very beginning, his guidance has been essential in many situations, especially at the initial stages. In time, I created a new approach to haemorrhagic shock treatment and I named it Oxsealife. My aim is to help by bringing new knowledge to light, and I've been intensively researching this area since 2014.
Morressier: Who funded your research?
Oller: Mostly, I financed it myself. I have spent a large amount of money out-of-pocket, including research costs, flights, lodging and more. I have earned one-quarter of what I could have earned since 2016 working as an anaesthesiologist full-time so that I would have time to focus on research. I spent most of my vacations and free time doing this research, but I was happy to do so because Oxsealife is my dream.
Morressier: When did you decide to present it? Was it at Euroanaesthesia 2016 (ESA) in London where you first presented it?
Oller: Yes, I presented my first poster at the ESA conference three years ago. The data was partial, obtained from trials with pigs. Complete data has been published this year in a peer-reviewed journal, Anaesthesia.
Morressier: Besides the honor, what else do researchers obtain from publishing?
Oller: Different entities may become interested in your work. I've been contacted by pharmaceutical companies. I got a lot of retweets and received some nice comments from professionals in healthcare and from the industry. I was also invited to speak about Oxsealife at an immunology conference in Barcelona. Above all, you get your ideas broadcast to the rest of the scientific community.
Morressier: Now that your research has been published, what comes next?
Oller: We still have much left to do with this research. The pilot project done on pigs is complete, which got us our preliminary, non-conclusive data. Another collaborator of the project, Wayne B. Dyer, is currently doing further trials in Australia. After that, we need to do toxicity tests before reaching out to regulatory agencies. Only then can we start doing human testing. I estimate that it will take at least five years before Oxsealife hits the shelves.
Morressier: With an emphasis on academic posters, is there anything you'd like to add about the benefits that this medium brings?
Oller: For myself, it really helps train me to express scientific topics with an adequate level of English. Seeing the reactions of people and the level of interest in my research helps me get a feel for the playing field. This can inspire me to move forward with publication.