Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Inhaled nitric oxide may help sickle cell disease


Inhaling a small dose of nitric oxide gas may one day help sickle cell patients avoid pain crises and live healthier lives, researchers say.

Nitric oxide may help normalize a sickle cell patient’s hemoglobin by restoring the natural charge and shape to the oxygen-carrying component of red blood cells, Medical College of Georgia researchers have found.

“Hemoglobin S plus nitric oxide behaves much like normal adult hemoglobin, which does not sickle,” says Dr. C. Alvin Head, chair of the Medical College of Georgia Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine.

In fact, their test-tube studies of human hemoglobin show nitric oxide not only prevents unhealthy clustering of hemoglobin S molecules but can melt existing polymers, leaving more hemoglobin free to do its job of oxygen delivery to the body.

Inhaling the short-acting gas naturally found on hemoglobin allows low concentrations to come in close contact with red blood cells and essentially turns the lungs into a hemoglobin repair shop.

“This is clearly a novel idea,” Dr. Head says of findings that show the extra nitric oxide changes the neutral charge of hemoglobin S to the slightly negative charge much like normal hemoglobin. It could also help prevent development of the unwanted hemoglobin S polymers in the microcirculation when oxygen levels are lower, once hemoglobin releases its oxygen to the tissues.

Those surface irregularities create unfortunate puzzle pieces that help hemoglobin S molecules fit together to form the polymer. The neutral charge permits this abnormal bonding that eventually deforms the red blood cells that carry them, Dr. Head says. “As the polymer gets longer, it binds to the red cell membrane and begins to deform the cell. If you can prevent this from occurring, you won’t get the abnormal-shaped cells,” he says or the resulting pain crises as the sickled cells deprive body tissue of adequate oxygen.

Add nitric oxide to the equation and the newly created negative charge helps hemoglobin molecules repel each other and stay independent, round and functional, he says of findings being presented during the American Society of Anesthesiologists’ annual meeting in Atlanta Oct. 22-26. Sabina Wang, a research associate who performed these studies, will present their work. Dr. Steffen Meiler, vice chair of research for the MCG Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, also is a contributing co-author.

Oxygen also can break apart dangerous polymers, but the smaller nitric oxide is more agile, has a higher affinity for hemoglobin and – perhaps most importantly – can normalize the charge of hemoglobin S, Ms. Wang notes.

Anesthesiologists and other physicians already give low doses of nitric oxide to patients for reasons such as hypoxic respiratory failure in the newborn.

“We knew that nitric oxide would bind to hemoglobin very, very rapidly,” says Dr. Head. “That has been very well proven in the medical literature. In fact, that is the basis of why when you inhale it in very low concentrations, you do not get systemic vascular effects,” he says of the powerful dilator of blood vessels. “It rapidly crosses the lungs, binds to the hemoglobin, then circulates in the blood.” It was when he was giving nitric oxide to lung transplant patients years ago, patients who might end up breathing the gas for days or weeks at a time without apparent ill effects, that he first considered how it also might benefit sickle cell patients.

Previously published studies by Dr. Head and his colleagues in a hypoxic animal model for sickle cell disease showed the animals who breathed nitric oxide gas are the ones that survived.

“This is not a cure, but we think it will get patients out of a crisis earlier or maybe prevent a crisis,” says Dr. Head of the potential therapy that may one day be used by sickle cells patients like inhalers are used by asthmatics.

The MCG researchers already are working with University of Georgia researchers to crystalize hemoglobin S and identify all points of action for nitric oxide. “We know there is a charge change globally, but we want to identify the exact sites where it’s binding and might have its biggest impact,” Dr. Head says.

Toni Baker | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Don't Give the Slightest Chance to Toxic Elements in Medicinal Products
23.03.2018 | Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB)

nachricht North and South Cooperation to Combat Tuberculosis
22.03.2018 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Space observation with radar to secure Germany's space infrastructure

Satellites in near-Earth orbit are at risk due to the steady increase in space debris. But their mission in the areas of telecommunications, navigation or weather forecasts is essential for society. Fraunhofer FHR therefore develops radar-based systems which allow the detection, tracking and cataloging of even the smallest particles of debris. Satellite operators who have access to our data are in a better position to plan evasive maneuvers and prevent destructive collisions. From April, 25-29 2018, Fraunhofer FHR and its partners will exhibit the complementary radar systems TIRA and GESTRA as well as the latest radar techniques for space observation across three stands at the ILA Berlin.

The "traffic situation" in space is very tense: the Earth is currently being orbited not only by countless satellites but also by a large volume of space...

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

New solar solutions for sustainable buildings and cities

23.03.2018 | Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

For graphite pellets, just add elbow grease

23.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Unique communication strategy discovered in stem cell pathway controlling plant growth

23.03.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

Sharpening the X-ray view of the nanocosm

23.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>