maintaining healthy blood vessels

Keeping blood vessels healthy during and after surgery is often difficult, but a Northwestern University research team has found a potential way to ensure this through the use of nitric oxide.

Patients who undergo vascular procedures are at risk of blood vessel damage, which can lead to cellular overgrowth resulting in restricted blood flow. These complications potentially can be prevented by the use of nitric oxide. A research team led by Guillermo Ameer, Sc.D., professor of biomedical engineering at Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering and Surgery in Evanston, IL, has changed the traditional drug protamine sulfate into a nitric oxide-releasing drug by exposing it to highly pressurized nitric oxide gas.

While other nitric oxide-releasing drugs currently exist, most become toxic after the gas is expelled. Ameer’s team was able to convert protamine into a nitric oxide donor without changing its natural structure. Because protamine naturally occurs in the body, it did not leave behind toxic byproducts.