Life-saving quality of 'killer gas'

A GAS with a reputation as a killer can, in fact, save lives and boost health levels, according to research by Sheffield University boffins.

Monday, 15th October 2007, 1:09 pm
Updated Thursday, 18th October 2007, 8:24 am

Scientists have found a way of safely releasing small doses of carbon monoxide into the body using innovative water-soluble molecules.

Despite its deadly reputation the gas is produced in the body as part of its own natural defensive systems.

Professor Brian Mann and colleagues from the university's department of chemistry have produced the molecules which can be swallowed or injected.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Small amounts can reduce inflammation, widen blood vessels, increase blood flow, prevent unwanted blood clotting and even suppress the activity of cells which attack transplanted organs.

Patients who have undergone heart surgery or organ transplants and people suffering from high blood pressure are among those who could benefit.

"The molecules dissolve in water, so they can be made available in an easy-to-ingest, liquid form that quickly passes into the bloodstream," Prof Mann said.

"As well as making it simple to control how much carbon monoxide is introduced into a patient's body, it will be possible to refine the design of the molecules so they target a particular place while leaving the rest of the body unaffected."

As well as boosting survival rates and cutting recovery times, the new molecules could ease pressure on hospital budgets by reducing the time that patients need to spend in hospital after an operation.

They could even help some patients avoid going into hospital in the first place.

Click here to return to main news index.

Got a view? Add your comment below.