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Thread: Gas may prevent nerve cell damage

  1. #1

    Gas may prevent nerve cell damage

    Gas may block brain damage during surgery

    Last Updated: 2002-05-30 15:00:36 -0400 (Reuters Health)
    By John Griffiths

    LONDON (Reuters Health) - Xenon, a gas that has been used for decades in anesthesia, is about to enter clinical trials to determine whether it can prevent brain injury following heart surgery. The trials were prompted by the finding, published this week, that the gas protects against nerve cell damage in a rat model of brain injury.

    The UK-based researchers say that it may be possible to use the gas to treat injury after stroke, or following brain or spinal cord injury.

    Professor Nicholas Franks from Imperial College and colleagues there and elsewhere in London note that xenon blocks the action of the NMDA glutamate receptor, a molecule on the surface of nerve cells that serves as a critical factor in a pathway that leads to nerve cell death.

    The investigators found that when rats were treated with xenon before the onset of brain injury, damage was reduced by up to 45% compared with untreated animals. The concentrations of the gas used were below those used in anesthesia, the research team notes.

    Xenon also prevented injury in cultured mouse nerve cells, according to the report published in the June edition of Anesthesiology. It completely protected against nerve cell damage induced by oxygen deprivation and reduced chemically induced damage by up to 80%.

    "We may eventually be able to prevent brain damage following stroke, as well as nerve cell death after brain and spinal cord injuries," study co-author Professor Mervyn Maze said in an interview with Reuters Health.

    "Our upcoming clinical trials will test whether xenon prevents brain damage after heart surgery," said Maze. The trials, in which xenon will be administered during heart surgery as part of the anesthetic regimen, will be conducted in the UK and the USA, he noted.

    Already the results of further studies in rodents of the effects of xenon in heart bypass injury have been encouraging, he pointed out.

    "At present, nerve cells cannot regenerate when they die, but by using xenon, we may be able to prevent injury occurring in the first place," Maze added.

    "Xenon is naturally occurring, remarkably safe, simple to administer, and has observable effects 1 minute after treatment. It has been used as an anesthetic for more than 50 years," said Maze. "Ironically, other anesthetics that inhibit this type of glutamate receptor can actually damage nerve cells. Xenon is the only one that doesn't."

    Maze said that his team is currently in discussion with the US Food and Drug Administration about planned clinical trials of xenon. "They have been very helpful and we are almost agreed that there will be 250 patients in each of two multicenter trials, one in the US and one in the UK," he said.

    "The exciting thing about these results is there is a huge unmet clinical need. Xenon is also a renewable resource and it has already had years of clinical use, so it has a proven safety track record," Maze stated.

    Imperial College has formed a spin-off company, Protexeon, in collaboration with Pennsylvania-based Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., to "develop clinical applications" of the xenon technology, the college said in a press release.

    SOURCE: Anesthesiology 2002;96:1485-1491.

  2. #2
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    Inert Gas Could Protect Damaged Nerve Cells

    Inert Gas Could Protect Damaged Nerve Cells
    Fri May 31, 7:12 PM ET

    FRIDAY, May 31 (HealthScoutNews) -- Sometimes, something inert can keep something else alive.


    That appears to be the case with xenon, one of the inert gases most people learned about in chemistry class.

    Scientists at Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine in London say that xenon could help protect damaged nerve cells from dying and prove effective in treating people with strokes, and brain and spinal cord injuries.

    The research, published in the latest issue of the journal Anesthesiology, shows that xenon acts as a neuroprotectant by blocking the effects of a particular type of receptor found in the pathway that leads to nerve cell death. This receptor is a glutamate, a salt derivative of glutamatic acid, an amino acid that is a key element in animal and plant proteins.

    Nerve cells can't regenerate when they die, but xenon gas may provide a way to stop these cells from dying in the first place, the scientists say.

    They looked at its effectiveness in pre-clinical trials. Clinical trials are planned for the United Kingdom and the United States.

    Xenon is odorless, colorless and nontoxic. It occurs naturally in air and is used in anesthesia, light bulbs and as window insulation.

    More information

    The Reeve-Irvine Research Center at the University of California at Irvine is dedicated to finding ways to bring about nerve cell regeneration.

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    Senior Member Max's Avatar
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    Flash Bulb Gas May Treat Brain Injury

    Flash Bulb Gas May Treat Brain Injury

    A gas commonly used in camera flash bulbs and strobe lights could prove to be an effective treatment for stroke or brain injury patients, say British researchers.

    Once nerve cells in the brain die, they cannot be regenerated. But scientists at Imperial College in London say they've found that the gas, called xenon, could prevent damaged nerves from dying in the first place, and could possibly prevent the progression of neurological disorders and spinal-cord injuries.

    The gas appears to stop the brain's receptors from destroying damaged nerve cells, reports the BBC.

    The findings are especially intriguing, say experts, because xenon, a naturally occurring gas, is known for its lack of toxicity and may therefore be a safe method for protecting neurons in humans.

    The scientists are working with a U.S. company called Air Products and are planning to test the research in clinical trials.

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