Carbon Monoxide: A Future Therapeutic?
While typically thought of as a deadly gas, carbon monoxide (CO) is produced in humans during the healing process. Studies of the beneficial health effects of low doses of CO have revealed anti-inflammatory, anti-apoptotic, and anti-proliferative effects, as well as the promotion of vasodilation. Several clinical trials are currently underway evaluating the use of inhaled carbon monoxide as a therapeutic. However, a challenge in using inhaled CO as a therapeutic is that it does not enable the delivery of controlled amounts of CO to specific targets and diffusion into tissues is unpredictable. Our laboratory is developing molecules similar to the flavonoids found in fruits, vegetables, and teas as carbon monoxide-releasing molecules that can be triggered to release CO at a specific time and location. The results of our studies will be discussed in the context of this rapidly developing area.