A newly developed group of plastics that release nitric oxide (NO) — a molecule that influences body functions ranging from sexual function to communication among nerves — may have broad uses in medicine, scientists are reporting in an article in the April 4 issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, a weekly publication.
Joseph A. Hrabie, of the National Cancer Institute at Frederick, and colleagues at Northwestern University report synthesis of NO-releasing forms of the most commercially important polyacrylonitrile (PAN) polymers. The new polymers include a textile, a plastic and a rubber.
Some of the materials continuously release small amounts of NO for months. NO dilates blood vessels and has other actions suggesting that it could reduce undesirable effects such as blood vessel scaring and narrowing that tend to occur after coronary angioplasty and bypass surgery.
In experiments with laboratory rats, the researchers showed that a NO-releasing variant of PAN powder, applied after balloon angioplasty, reduced formation of scar tissue in the artery. "Many applications of this chemistry in vascular surgery and other medical procedures can be envisioned," the report states. "Possible applications of these polymers include arterial stenting, bypass grafting and surgical endarterectomy."
Materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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