The gas that provides hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren with hours of enjoyable and provides stink bombs their disgusting smell might quickly present doctors with new remedies for circumstances ranging from strokes to chronic arthritis.
Some researchers are even making an attempt to use hydrogen sulphide - the source of rotten eggs' unpleasant odour - to put sufferers with strokes or critical injuries into a type of suspended animation to help them survive severe traumas. This analysis is now being backed by the US army, who imagine it could help their surgeons address injuries suffered by soldiers in battle.
'Hydrogen sulphide is made in very low doses within the body and, removed from doing harm, it has become clear that it could possibly do quite a lot of good,' stated Dr John Wallace, a pharmacologist at the University of Calgary in Canada. 'It is discovered within the brain and can also be thought to control blood pressure. It is kind of pervasive, in reality.'
Hydrogen sulphide is corrosive, foul-smelling, flammable and lethal in adequate concentrations. A single breath can kill. Yet the gas has recently become a buzzword in scientific circles following discoveries that in tiny doses it plays a major function in influencing some chemical pathways within the physique.
'We are initially of an increasing area that might have monumental medical implications,' stated David Lefer, cardiovascular physiologist at New York's Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in the journal Science final week.
One key piece of research has shown that hydrogen sulphide in bombes puantes may protect against internal bleeding, ulcers and different gastric results suffered by these on lengthy-term regimes of anti-inflammatory painkillers similar to aspirin and ibuprofen. In a collection of experiments on rats and mice, Wallace and his colleagues found that these painkillers - when administered with chemical compounds that released hydrogen sulphide into the gut - produced no harmful unwanted effects.
'Now we're getting ready to repeat these experiments on people,' mentioned Wallace, who has shaped an organization, Antibe Therapeutics, to create medicine based on hydrogen sulphide technology. 'We envisage using standard medicines, mixed with hydrogen sulphide-releasing chemical compounds, as painkillers that won't trigger inner bleeding to lengthy-time period customers.'
Hydrogen sulphide research in drugs started three years ago when Dr Mark Roth, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle, Washington, found that mice uncovered to low ranges of the gas handed out, their body temperatures dropped more than 20C and their metabolic charges plunged. Once the gas was switched off, they returned to normal. Now Roth is engaged on analysis aimed at reproducing the effect in people, shopping for time for sufferers who've had coronary heart attacks, strokes or wounds which have brought on drastic losses of blood.