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Grant for 'rotten eggs' anti-inflammatory research

A research project at the Peninsula Medical School in Exeter, which will study the effect of hydrogen sulfide (H2S - the 'rotten eggs' gas) as an effective anti-inflammatory agent, has won a research grant of 140,000 over three years from the Wellcome Trust.

H2S occurs naturally in the body and, when in balance with other chemical compounds that occur naturally in humans, promotes good health.

Last year the research team investigated the role of H2S in toxic shock, which causes a fatal loss of blood pressure and extensive tissue inflammation. They discovered that when H2S is delivered in a slow and sustained manner it works as an effective anti-inflammatory. Cell signaling molecules that drive inflammation were reduced while levels of the body's own anti-inflammatory molecules were increased.

The Wellcome Trust grant will fund further studies to investigate how H2S and its controlled delivery in the body could pave the way for the development of new approaches to the treatment of inflammatory disorders.

The funding will allow the research team to expand their work into the clinical setting. They strongly believe that this new and innovative area of research could hold the key to a range of applications for human health. They have already shown that H2S releasing molecules synthesised by them are beneficial in models of high blood pressure and they are part of a cohort of researchers worldwide who are only just starting to unravel the role of H2S has in the body in health and disease.

Dr. Matt Whiteman from the Peninsula Medical School, Exeter commented: "We are very excited to have won Wellcome Trust support which will allow us to further develop our work. We have known for a few years that H2S levels in tissue and blood are substantially elevated during inflammation. It was assumed that this was a bad thing. However, our research is suggesting that levels of H2S could be elevated as part of the body's way to limit and resolve inflammation."

He added: "Although traditional anti-inflammatory drugs are very effective and safe, they can sometimes damage the stomach lining leading to further complications. Generating H2S in a controlled and sustained manner offers the potential for the development of a new group of anti-inflammatory drugs or lead to the modification of existing drugs so they also release H2S and hopefully come with less gastrointestinal side-effects. Our next round of research could revolutionise the way in which anti-inflammatory interventions are developed and administered."

Earlier research into the role of H2S in the body had been funded locally by the Northcott Devon Medical Foundation.


Contact: Andrew Gould
The Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry

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