Tag Archives: Hydrogen sulfide

Surprise partners: Nitric oxide and H2S…What else don’t we know?

Blood_Vessels (Photo credit: shoebappa)

The trouble with some of the miracles of science is that we discover some wonderful substance and start manipulating it in the belief we know what we’re doing, only to find out at some later date that the substance in question—in this case, nitric oxide—does not, in fact, perform its magic all by itself.

A recent study reports that hydrogen sulfide (H2S), which was thought to perform on its own certain functions similar to those of nitric oxide (NO), is actually a partner with NO in such actions as growing new blood vessels and relaxing existing ones. The authors of the study were Greek and American scientists, and the report is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

Adoption of Genetically Engineered Crops in th...
Adoption of Genetically Engineered Crops in the U.S. HT = herbicide tolerance. BT = insect resistance. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The only conclusion I can reach is that these researchers were surprised by this discovery. Which makes me wonder. How can we use nanotechnology for a myriad of purposes and gaily go about genetically modifying foods and so on without having done enough safety studies? What surprise “partnerships” might we be missing/ignoring? And if we’re missing something, anything, what long-term effects will, for example, the genetically modified foods have on the nutrition—and therefore growth and health—of the animals and humans consuming them?

I served recently on a small panel of ordinary citizens being questioned by food industry representatives. The topic was attitudes about food safety and food labeling. What kind of labels did we think would make us feel confident about a food? I ask you: if you read “This is really good for you!” on a package, how much do you believe that? How often do you trust that “free range” really means the chickens didn’t spend most of their lives crammed together on top of each other in cages? And does “organic” broccoli mean they used compost from the kitchen in the dirt but still sprayed the hell out of it with pesticides? The truth is often a crapshoot

Some panelists thought they’d trust a source of foods–like Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods–more than they’d trust the marketing language of the manufacturer. The assumption being that these large, consumer-friendly stores that talk big about wholesome and healthy have actually done some serious investigating before they decided to carry a certain brand.

When it comes to nanotech in medicine, I’m sure that if a medicine could be nano-power-injected in me that would save my life—even for a while—I’d say hurry up and shoot, man. But it’s a different story when we talk about using it to fight cancer in a small child where we don’t know what the long-term consequences may be of nanoparticles injected into the body.

No Luddites here. Thank God for every exciting step forward in science—and equal gratitude for those who urge balance and caution.

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Hybrid NOSH aspirin pairs H2S with nitric oxide to fight cancer

You’ve heard of hybrid cars, which combine power sources—gasoline and an on-board rechargeable energy storage system (RESS). Now there’s a hybrid aspirin that combines acetylsalicylic acid, nitric oxide (NO) and hydrogen sulfide (H2S). They call it the “NOSH aspirin,” and they’re saying it can stop cancer cells from growing.

Generic regular strength enteric coated 325mg ...
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Cancer-fighting properties of the new hybrid aspirin are reported in the ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters. The same scientists had already developed a safer-on-the-stomach aspirin that used nitric oxide.

By adding hydrogen sulfide with its anti-inflammatory properties, the hope was that the aspirin would reduce the long-term inflammation that is thought to lead to abnormal cell growth and thereby contribute to a variety of cancers. Such long-term inflammation might come from infections or diseases such as HPV (can lead to cervical cancer) and hepatitis B (a precursor to liver cancer).

NO is important for a great many functions “in the gastrointestinal tract, including mucosal blood flow, maintenance of mucosal integrity, and maintenance of vascular tone,” according to the National Institutes of Health,

Scientists have for years been studying the role of hydrogen sulfide in the development of cancer prevention drugs. When they noted that cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, watercress and Brussels sprouts naturally protect against stomach and colon cancers, they decided to mix

NO and H2S in the hope of coming up with dual benefits. Voila, the NOSH aspirin.

Laboratory tests on animals show the aspirin inhibits growth of breast, colon, pancreas, lung, prostate and some types of leukemia cancer cells without damaging normal cells. NOSH preparations were recorded as being 100,000 times more effective against cancer than regular aspirin.


Other studies have shown even regular aspirin offers a significant reduction of chances of hereditary cancers. But regular intake of aspirin carries a risk of gastrointestinal bleeding and in somecases Reye’s syndrome.

So it will probably come soon. Clinical trials will see whether the cost-benefit ratio of using NOSH aspirin for cancer prevention gets up to where it needs to be for human consumption.


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