Heavy Water Reveals Cellular Secrets

Researchers are always looking for new and innovative ways to better understand the human brain and other vital organs. Now, they’re turning to an unexpected source in order to do it: heavy water, otherwise known as D20.

Heavy water is water mainly composed of deuterium, the hydrogen isotope that has double the mass of ordinary hydrogen. Heavy water has a molecular weight of about 20, where ordinary drinking water has a molecular weight of about 18.

Recently, researchers at Columbia University combined heavy water with a new type of laser-imaging technology called stimulated Raman scattering, or SRS for short. Doing so allowed them to zoom in at incredibly tiny scales and track changes within individual cells in the body – a method that could be used to potentially detect head injuries, to allow surgeons to more precisely remove tumors and much, much more.

The Impact of Heavy Water on Scientific Research

During the recent study, researchers diluted regular water with heavy water and gave it to roundworms, mice and zebra fish embryos. At that point, they aimed an SRS laser at a variety of different types of tissue and watched over the next several days as new proteins, lipids and even DNA began to build up.

In one experiment quickly thereafter, researchers were able to detect a much finer line than ever before between healthy and cancerous tissues. That made it much easier to remove a tumor in mice – something that is obviously beneficial to humans as well.

In another study, they were able to use the heavy water and SRS laser to better observe the developing brains of baby mice. Based on everything they learned, researchers concluded that they would be able to use the same techniques to tell whether a child’s brain was developing properly, too. They would also be able to more quickly determine if a patient was suffering from certain types of neurological conditions like multiple sclerosis, along with how well existing MS patients might be recovering.

All of these insights would have remained closely guarded secrets of the human body were it not for heavy water – but now, the heavy water and the deuterium contained insight may have just rewritten the body’s narrative to have the most positive conclusion possible.

Isowater: Your Partners in Learning and Innovation

At Isowater, we pride ourselves on our ability to help clients enhance their deuterium supply chain capabilities in a way that makes growth faster, more efficient, and more reliable than ever before. So if you’d like to find out more information, or you’d just like to discuss your heavy water needs with someone in a bit more detail, please don’t delay – contact Isowater today.