Carbon monoxide suffocates people by attaching to their red blood cells preventing them from carrying oxygen.The gas is also attracted to certain metals and researchers are harnessing that characteristic to diagnose disease.
Carbon monoxide we tend to think of as a poisonous gas that we find perhaps in our homes as a result of a faulty boiler or coming out back cars but actually our body produces small amounts of carbon monoxide as a messenger moleculewhich turns on and off various processes in the body to react to abnormalities such as disease.
The team at Imperial College London (ICL) designed an organic molecule that fluoresces under ultraviolet but only when carbon monoxide is present.The technology has great potential for future applications in medical diagnostics.
If we can detect carbon monoxide in these very small amounts we can actually tell when something is starting to go wrong.And as a result we can then administer therapy to be able to treat that disease;also of course if we do have carbon monoxide detection at our fingertips,we can then start to use it perhaps even in settings like the GP surgery where we could detect abnormal levels of carbon monoxide in biopsies for example from patients without having to go to the main hospital and to the labs that they have available there.
There’s evidence suggesting carbon monoxide may play a role in resolving inflammation and possibly alleviating cardiovascular disorders.
I’m Faith Lapidus, VOA News.