Issue Date: February 16, 2009
Hemoglobin Helper Aids Oxygen Delivery
A small molecule that helps the body deliver extra oxygen from the bloodstream to the muscles could be useful for people with heart failure who often find themselves short of breath (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0812381106). One potential way to help these patients carry out everyday physical activities is to boost the amount of oxygen that hemoglobin in red blood cells delivers to tissues. However, increasing the levels of known natural compounds that control hemoglobin's oxygen output isn't possible because these compounds can't cross blood cell membranes. A research team led by Jean-Marie Lehn of Louis Pasteur University, in Strasbourg, France, and Claude Nicolau of NormOxys, a Boston-based drug development company, has developed myo-inositol trispyrophosphate (ITPP), which can enter blood cells and coax hemoglobin to give up more oxygen than normal. The compound, which isn't found in nature, increases the amount of exercise that normal mice and mice genetically predisposed to develop heart failure can complete. NormOxys plans to move forward with ITPP clinical trials later this year, Nicolau says.
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