Category Archives: nitric oxide

New microneedle biosensor detects nitric oxide during cancer diagnosis

"Cancer - Early Diagnosis Would Save 50,0...
“Cancer – Early Diagnosis Would Save 50,000 Lives Every Year” – NARA – 514027 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nitric oxide NO) plays a variety of complex roles in the genesis, growth and death of cancer cells/tumors. As it does in so many physiological processes, it exhibits both pro- and anti-tumor activities, and researchers are still discussing the implications of these data on the use of NO as a therapeutic agent for the treatment of cancer.

A recent study takes advantage of NO activity to make diagnosing cancer more certain. A novel microneedle biosensor electrically detects NO emissions from cancer tissues in real-time for in situ cancer diagnosis during endomicroscopy. Researchers showed that using this as a dual diagnostic system yields high resolution imaging and provides a new way to easily, quickly and accurately diagnose cancers.

Nitric oxide once again takes a starring role in science’s efforts to understand how the human body works.

Heart failure, stem cell & nitric oxide news bytes

Doctors have discovered that one of the medicines routinely given to end-stage heart failure patients to block the kidneys from retaining water may also be blocking reception of vital signals that tell the heart to beat more strongly. A catch-22 they can now begin to study and hopefully remedy soon.

Mesenchymal stem cells are being used successfully to reduce muscuoskeletal pain in patients with arthritic knees, regardless of past-65 age or weight. It’s also being used for “such conditions as degenerative disc disease, desiccated discs, spinal stenosis (both central and foraminal), facet arthrosis, sacroiliac joint syndrome, osteoarthritis of any joint, and sports/overuse injuries.” Exciting news. Can’t wait ’til this approach becomes a best practice for every osteo doc.  Imagine potentially being able to skip that hip replacement!

We all know that breathing in traffic pollution can damage lungs. Now, in a study with rats, researchers have found the effect of breathing in smoke from combustion increased iNOS (inducible nitric oxide synthase) and other factors and resulted in damage to the olfactory bulb – inflammation, permeability and swelling. Hmmm. Wonder if this relates to why so many baby boomers have what seems like permanent excess mucus in their sinuses. Snort of fluticasone, anyone?

Promising new treatment for uncontrolled asthma

Asthma before-after
Asthma before-after (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Your body produces nitric oxide (NO) as a way to fight inflammation, relax tight muscles and increase blood flow. High levels of exhaled nitric oxide in your breath can mean that your airways are inflamed — one sign of asthma.

Researchers have recently discovered a substance called anti-thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) that seems to aggravate inflammation and trigger response to allergens in adults with allergic asthma.

In  a small double-blind study asthma patients treated with AMG-157 (Amgen) over nearly a 3-month period reacted significantly less to asthmatic challenges than those not treated. Amgen is a human monoclonal antibody that inhibits TSLP activity by binding to it.

Study results reported  adults with allergic asthma were shown to have “reduced the fraction of exhaled nitric oxide and blood and sputum eosinophils,” both of which are markers for airway inflammation. Dramatic promise for patients whose asthma is not well-controlled by other means.

Exhaled NO shows e-cigarettes too good to be true

CIGARETTE (Photo credit: Fried Dough)

As an ex-smoker I was intrigued when I heard about the new “smokeless” cigarette as an alternative to the devastatingly addictive habit of tobacco smoking. I wondered if it was truly possible to essentially hang on to your habit and not suffer the consequences.

Recent research says definitively not.

Italian researchers tested a small group of subjects for rates of exhaled nitric oxide (NO) – considered to be an accurate gauge of whether airways are inflamed – and found that e-smokers’ lungs were just as short on exhaled NO as those of tobacco smokers’. In fact, there were indications that nicotine-laced e-cigarettes actually deposited more particles in the lungs than real cigarette smoke.

So, unlike using methadone for stabilizing people with addictions, the e-cure could be turning out to be worse than what it’s replacing.

All things nitric oxide – research report released

Nitric Oxide Synthase
Nitric Oxide Synthase (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’ve read even a few of the posts on, you probably know I love writing about research that involves nitric oxide (NO). I was introduced to the power of NO about ten years ago when I wrote a white paper on asthma research for the Lerner Research Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. In fact, that project was the reason I started this blog – I got hooked on bioscience.

Just found out that Research and Markets, a global organization dedicated to examining the state of research, the condition of markets, and the companies working to develop various therapies, has recently released a comprehensive report about the current global state of research on nitric oxide (NO) and a related enzyme called nitric oxide synthase (NOS).

The description of this report is the simplest explanation I’ve seen of the dual nature of NO – how it produces great good in the human body, and yet can cause health problems in the same areas where it’s done good. A strange and wonderful molecule to learn about.



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New nitric oxide component (HNO) promises new CV help

English: A schematic showing the (laboratory) ...
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 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.

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Sunshine facilitates nitric oxide flow – and lowers blood pressure

Digitales Blutdruckmessgerät / Digital Blood P...
Digitales Blutdruckmessgerät / Digital Blood Pressure Monitor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A recent experiment showed that exposing people to UV rays can measurably reduce their blood pressure. The conjecture is that the rays are promoting the transfer of nitric oxide via the skin into the circulation, thus lowering blood pressure along with risk of stroke and heart attack.

Dermatologists were quick to say this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still avoid sun exposure for fear of skin cancer. However, docs who did the experiment point out that high blood pressure, stroke and heart attack kill 80 times more people than skin cancer.

Hmm. Lower blood pressure, more relaxed = benefits of sunshine. Does this surprise anyone? How many millennia have human beings been seeking out sunny locales in which to spend their vacations?

In addition, no change was detected in the subjects’ vitamin D levels, when it’s long been a scientific claim that sunshine exposure helps raise vitamin D absorption.

Clearly, this is a small study, but it’s a good reminder that science sometimes needs to be taken with a healthy dose of common sense.

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5 news bits – nitric oxide and nanoparticles

English: An experimental setup used to measure...
English: An experimental setup used to measure the fraction of exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) in human breath samples. The subject blows into the tube (1) after a mouthpiece (2) has been connected to it. The wires on the side measure parameters like breath velocity, while the exhaled gas is taken to a FeNO analyzer (3). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The first item is about nitric oxide (NO) used in testing, and the rest are all about using nanoparticles for delivering things into the human body, including NO. It’s astounding that scientists have found nanotechnology so helpful in these kinds of applications. I just hope more research is done on how safe it is to inject nanomaterials into our bodies or make us breathe them in. Their size is so similar to the deadly asbestos fibers that are currently costing billions in lawsuits by workers whose companies didn’t protect them from breathing and ingesting them.

Gotta make sure the cure doesn’t damage the patient in different ways than the condition it’s meant to help.

  1. Mayo Clinic officially recognizes the exhaled-nitric-oxide test to confirm asthma diagnoses and to determine how well medications are working –
  2. Japanese researchers have found a way to use nano-sized particles to deliver nitric oxide to cells as needed –
  3. Government wants scientists to adapt nano-delivery systems to protect soldiers in the field from bio and chemical weapons –
  4. Nanoparticles can carry RNA gene-silencing snippet to treat breast cancer –
  5. Inhaled nanoparticles to carry antimicrobial meds to treat pneumonia caused by drug-resistant bacteria –
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Light-triggered nanosystem delivers NO gas to cells

Nitric oxide (white) in conifer cells, visuali...
Nitric oxide (white) in conifer cells, visualized using DAF-2 DA (diaminofluorescein diacetate) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Japanese researchers have developed a new way to deliver nitric oxide (NO) gas into cells.

Nitric oxide is a workhorse in the body. It signals cells to divide, expands blood vessels and sends signals between nerve cells in the brain. Scientists believe that figuring out how NO controls all this may help them come up with new approaches to treating cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.

Despite progress, it’s still a mystery just how much NO causes specific effects. “No existing technique has been able to capture what this gas is truly doing at the cellular level,” said Stephane Diring, who led the study.

By combining chemical and biological techniques the team of researchers, from Kyoto University’s Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences (iCeMS) put together a nano-based structure called MOF for delivering NO that could release its payload to nearby cells based on how much light is delivered to it.  Kind of like an underground sprinkler system delivers water to a lawn.

The system lets them control exactly where and how much nitric oxide is delivered by tuning the intensity and wavelength of the light, according to researcher Shuhei Furukawa. Plus, the fact that the light is infrared means it won’t harm other cells.

One giant leap into understanding NO. One small step in the never-ending battle to develop non-invasive therapies.

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Heart cells’ unique communication opens new paths for heart failure research

English: Treatment Guidelines for Chronic Hear...
English: Treatment Guidelines for Chronic Heart Failure (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Research into how the heart communicates is yielding some fascinating insights. A recent study with mice has shown that the heart’s cells receive signals from the nervous system, but then the heart initiates its own way of passing on signals to other heart cells. The results could lead to novel ways to study the mechanisms of heart failure – where the system that speeds up and slows down the heart gets out of whack and results in the heart’s being unable to pump enough blood to the muscles.

What heart cells use to send messages to other heart cells is the neurotransmitter acetylcholine (ACh). The study used mice whose heart cells only had been engineered not to release ACh. Their heart rates remained normal at rest but went much higher than usual rates during exercise and their hearts took much longer to return to normal after exercise. “The results suggest the heart cell derived ACh may boost parasympathetic signaling to counterbalance sympathetic activity.”

The researcher thinks this heart-critical non-neuronal source of ACh might also play a role in other organs. This study was supported by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Canada Foundation for Innovation.


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