English: A schematic showing the (laboratory) production of nitric oxide. The setup was made based on an image of the 1949 Popular Mechanics article by Kenneth M. Swezey (titled: The gas that makes you laugh). Images from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Rocket000/SVGs/Chemistry were used to make this image. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The substance nitric oxide (NO), one of my favorite topics, is now known to be break-downable into components, one of which has one less electron. It’s known as NO(-) or HNO or nitroxyl, and researchers are finding some exciting new applications for it.
One novel use for nitroxyl is as part of a nanoparticle coating for implanted medical devices that otherwise might trigger dangerous blood clots. The coating is made up of sheets of graphene integrated with two components—haemin and glucose oxidase. “Both work synergistically to catalyze the production of nitroxyl, which can be used inside the blood like nitric oxide, although it contains one less electron. Nitroxyl has been reported as being analogous to nitric oxide in its clot-preventing capability.”
The other use for nitroxyl (HNO) involves its use in treating heart failure. Researchers normally write in very reserved terms about their discoveries, but the author of the passage below seems pretty excited about the implications of the research. Basically it’s saying that HNO donors can do things that regular NO donors cannot do and may be dramatically more useful in treating cardiovascular disease.
Thus, unlike NO*, HNO can target cardiac sarcoplasmic ryanodine receptors to increase myocardial contractility, can interact directly with thiols and is resistant to both scavenging by superoxide (*O2-) and tolerance development. HNO donors are protective in the setting of heart failure in which NO donors have minimal impact.
It’s cool to see this showing three of my favorite topics coming together: nitric oxide, nanotechnology and heart failure. But then, when all is said and done someday, everything in bioscience will undoubtedly coalesce in one way or another.
Blood clot diagram (Thrombus) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Blood clots can wreck quality of life and even kill by causing a stroke or a heart attack. But up ’til now doctors have been unable to predict when a clot might develop in a particular patient. Now nanotechnology is making possible a way to read signals in your urine that your body may be getting ready to produce one of these little clots with such destructive potential.
Just as seismologists are developing new ways to be able to predict when a volcano will erupt, researchers have developed a urine test that uses nanoparticles to detect thrombin, a major element of blood clotting. The test was made by converting a process that’s currently in use to detect colorectal cancer and has been successfully tested in mice that are high-risk for blood clots.
Good news is that the iron oxide particles used in the test have already been approved for use in humans, so the time to clinical trials shouldn’t be too prolonged. The test will be used to help people in emergency rooms who have symptoms that resemble those caused by a blood clot and also to monitor others at high-risk, such as those who fly a lot or who must spend a lot of time in bed after surgery.
I have a relative who suffered a stroke at a young age, so I know how terrifying it can be – and how it can degrade a person’s quality of life. The goal of the new test is to make it as easy as, “Pee on this stick and call me in the morning.” Imagine the sadness, fear and suffering that could potentially be averted.