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Foul-smelling gas shows health benefits in reducing joint swelling
Date:4/29/2013

A gas associated with the smell of rotten eggs has proven to effectively reduce joint swelling, in research which could lead to advances in the treatment of arthritis.

Scientists at the University of Exeter Medical School have discovered that a novel drug molecule, which slowly generates the gas hydrogen sulfide (H2S), effectively reduces swelling and inflammation in arthritic joints.

For years, H2S has been regarded as a highly poisonous by-product which is corrosive, flammable and explosive. But research is now showing an altogether more benign side to the substance.

Professor Matt Whiteman, of the University of Exeter Medical School, said the research, which is published online in the Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, could pave the way for more effective treatments of arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. Prof Whiteman said: "H2S is widely dismissed as a toxic and foul-smelling environmental pollutant, but it has recently been shown to be created in humans and animals by a specific set of enzymes. Why would the body do this if it had no benefit? Our research has shown that the key to unlocking the therapeutic qualities of H2S is through slow release, mimicking the body's own production."

The team has previously shown that H2S levels were increased by up to four times in the knee joints of patients with joint diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, but intriguingly the higher H2S levels strongly correlated with a lower number of inflammatory cells in the joint. The latest study provides further evidence that the real role for H2S may be to combat inflammation, swelling and joint destruction.

Prof Whiteman added: "A patient will usually visit their doctor with a joint already inflamed, swollen and painful. Since the compound worked after arthritis was established, it may be useful in treating arthritis in the future. Many compounds can prevent arthritis in the laboratory, but of course nobo
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Contact: Louise Vennells
l.vennells@exeter.ac.uk
44-013-927-24927
University of Exeter
Source:Eurekalert

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