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The gas that gives hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren with hours of enjoyable and provides stink bombs their revolting scent could quickly provide doctors with new therapies for circumstances ranging from strokes to persistent arthritis.
Some researchers are even making an attempt to use hydrogen sulphide - the supply of rotten eggs' unpleasant odour - to put sufferers with strokes or severe injuries into a form of suspended animation to help them survive severe traumas. This research is now being backed by the US navy, who imagine it may help their surgeons address accidents suffered by troopers in battle.
'Hydrogen sulphide is made in very low doses within the physique and, removed from doing hurt, it has turn out to be clear that it could do a great deal of good,' said Dr John Wallace, a pharmacologist on the University of Calgary in Canada. 'It is discovered in the mind and can also be thought to control blood pressure. It is quite pervasive, in reality.'
Hydrogen sulphide is corrosive, foul-smelling, flammable and deadly in adequate concentrations. A single breath can kill. Yet the gas has lately become a buzzword in scientific circles following discoveries that in tiny doses it plays a significant function in influencing some chemical pathways within the body.
'We are initially of an increasing subject that might have huge clinical implications,' mentioned David Lefer, cardiovascular physiologist at New York's Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in the journal Science last week.
One key piece of research has shown that hydrogen sulphide in spray puants could shield against inner bleeding, ulcers and other gastric effects suffered by these on lengthy-term regimes of anti-inflammatory painkillers such as aspirin and ibuprofen. In a series of experiments on rats and mice, Wallace and his colleagues found that these painkillers - when administered with chemicals that launched hydrogen sulphide into the intestine - produced no harmful side effects.
'Now we're making ready to repeat these experiments on humans,' said Wallace, who has formed a company, Antibe Therapeutics, to create medicine based on hydrogen sulphide expertise. 'We envisage using commonplace medicines, combined with hydrogen sulphide-releasing chemical compounds, as painkillers that won't cause inside bleeding to lengthy-time period users.'
Hydrogen sulphide analysis in medication started three years in the past when Dr Mark Roth, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle, Washington, found that mice uncovered to low ranges of the gas passed out, their physique temperatures dropped greater than 20C and their metabolic rates plunged. Once the gasoline was switched off, they returned to regular. Now Roth is working on research aimed at reproducing the impact in people, shopping for time for patients who've had heart assaults, strokes or wounds which have caused drastic losses of blood.