Carbon monoxide 'scavenger' offers potential antidote to silent killer

Carbon monoxide


New Delhi:Researchers have designed a scavenger molecule that can trap and remove carbon monoxide (CO) from the bloodstream within minutes, protecting mice from this common "silent killer.
" The molecule may one day offer an injectable antidote to CO poisoning that could be rapidly administered by paramedics in the home or hospital, the scientists say.
A toxic by-product of burning fuel in cars, stoves, and other engines, CO is a leading cause of poisoning death worldwide, sending about 50,000 people to the emergency room each year in the US alone.
The colourless and odourless gas sticks to haemoglobin, which carries oxygen in our red blood cells, preventing oxygen from reaching vital organs.
In search of an antidotal therapy, which is currently unavailable, Ivan Azarov and colleagues turned to a haemoglobin-like protein found in the brain called neuroglobin.
They tweaked the molecule to bind CO about 500 times more strongly than haemoglobin binds CO.
While neuroglobin also attaches to oxygen, the engineered version bound to CO about 1,000 times more tightly than to oxygen, suggesting it selectively targets the dangerous compound.
When infused into mice exposed to lethal levels of CO poisoning, the modified neuroglobin removed CO from red blood cells within minutes and rapidly cleared from the blood into urine, improving survival and restoring heart rate and blood pressure to normal.
The scavenger molecule also proved more potent than pure oxygen therapy, a widely used treatment for CO poisoning.
The new discovery, which could lead to carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning antidote in humans, is published in a paper that appears in the Science Translational Medicine authored by I Azarov and his colleagues at Vascular Medicine Institute, University of Pittsburg.

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