The gas that we pass has health benefits, believe it or not.
A new study says that when used in the right tiny dosage, hydrogen sulfide has the potential to help treat diabetes, stroke, heart attacks and dementia.
Scientists at the University of Exeter have designed a new compound (AP39) they claim could hold the key to future therapies, by delivering small amounts of the substance to the right (or key) places inside cells.
The team says it has already found that the compound protects mitochondria, which drive energy production in blood vessel cells. Preventing or reversing mitochondrial damage is a key strategy for treatments of a variety of conditions such as stroke, heart failure, diabetes and arthritis, dementia and ageing.
Prof. Matt Whiteman said, “When cells become stressed by disease, they draw in enzymes to generate minute quantities of hydrogen sulfide. This keeps the mitochondria ticking over and allows cells to live. If this doesn’t happen, the cells die and lose the ability to regulate survival and control inflammation. We have exploited this natural process by making a compound, called AP39, which slowly delivers very small amounts of this gas specifically to the mitochondria. Our results indicate that if stressed cells are treated with AP39, mitochondria are protected and cells stay alive.”
The research is being conducted in several models of disease, and pre-clinical results are promising, the team says on the university's site.