Scientists are looking for a potential carbon monoxide antidote as the silent killer gas has no smell and leaves no visible traces but is still highly dangerous.
Carbon monoxide is amongst the most common causes of accidental poisonings and death in the United States. As the gas is colorless, tasteless, and odorless, it is also difficult to treat if undetected.
As such, a new study claims to have potentially found a way of dealing with the effects of the gas in just a matter of minutes.
The study is being carried by a team of University of Pittsburgh scientists led by Mark Gladwin, the University of Pittsburg’s School of Medicine chair of medicine. Gladwin also is the Pittsburgh Heart, Lung, Blood and Vascular Medicine Institute Director.
The preliminary details and initial results of the new study were published Wednesday, December 07, in the Science Translational Medicine Journal.
CDC or the Centers for Disease Control reports show that, in the United States, carbon monoxide poisonings cause more than 400 deaths each year.
The monoxide can have various sources which include, amongst others, appliances that burn wood, kerosene, or gas.
However, an antidote to this quite common poisoning has yet to be determined. Back in the summer of 2013, a series of events led Dr. Gladwin and his team to the idea of developing such a cure.
At the time, the team was studying various molecules with functions similar to the hemoglobin’s. The hemoglobin is the red cells molecule which transports oxygen throughout the body.
Their research found that the neuroglobin, a protein of the nervous system, has a similar function as it is highly efficient in transporting oxygen molecules.
At a molecular level, carbon monoxide poisonings occur as the carbon monoxide or CO molecules displace oxygen ones. With the CO replacing oxygen molecules, the hemoglobin transports the former through the body.
After discovering that the neuroglobin is a highly effective oxygen carrier, the team decided to test its CO molecule affinities.
Gladwin states that the team was fortunate to discover that neuroglobins are, in fact, very probable to also capture CO molecules.
The team then proceeded to determine if the neuroglobin could, as such, come to function as a potential carbon monoxide antidote.
To that effect, the researchers performed a series of tests on mice. The typical half-life of carbon monoxide in the bloodstream is of about 5 and a half hours.
As such, research sought to determine the effects of the introduction of neuroglobin in the mice’s organism following a CO exposure.
It was determined that the neuroglobin cleared a half of the CO molecules bloodstream quantity in just about 25 seconds.
The neuroglobin was seen to completely clear the body of CO in just about 13 minutes, as it also passed and used the kidneys and the bladder.
As such, the team of scientists determined that the neuroglobin may potentially act as an antidote. The potential carbon monoxide antidote works by sopping up the CO molecules.
It then proceeds to bind them and as such, frees up the hemoglobin. Current CO poisoning treatments involve oxygen cures and a hyperbaric chamber.
This, in turn, requires a hospital intervention. Gladwin stated that the potential new carbon monoxide antidote could be administered on the spot.
As the mice experiments showed no adverse reactions, studies will be carried out on larger mammals. If the tests prove successful, human trials could also come to follow and advance the study.
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