The gasoline that provides millions of schoolchildren with hours of enjoyable and offers stink bombs their disgusting scent could quickly present medical doctors with new remedies for circumstances ranging from strokes to chronic arthritis.
Some researchers are even making an attempt to use hydrogen sulphide - the supply of rotten eggs' unpleasant odour - to put sufferers with strokes or severe accidents into a type of suspended animation to assist them survive extreme traumas. This research is now being backed by the US navy, who consider it may help their surgeons cope with accidents suffered by troopers in battle.
'Hydrogen sulphide is made in very low doses in the physique and, removed from doing harm, it has turn into clear that it can do a great deal of good,' mentioned Dr John Wallace, a pharmacologist at the University of Calgary in Canada. 'It is discovered in the mind and can be thought to control blood stress. It is sort of pervasive, actually.'
Hydrogen sulphide is corrosive, foul-smelling, flammable and deadly in enough concentrations. A single breath can kill. Yet the fuel has recently become a buzzword in scientific circles following discoveries that in tiny doses it plays a major role in influencing some chemical pathways in the physique.
'We are at the beginning of an increasing subject that could have enormous medical implications,' said David Lefer, cardiovascular physiologist at New York's Albert Einstein College of Medicine, within the journal Science last week.
One key piece of research has shown that hydrogen sulphide in spray puants might shield against inside bleeding, ulcers and other gastric effects suffered by those on long-time period regimes of anti-inflammatory painkillers such as aspirin and ibuprofen. In a series of experiments on rats and mice, Wallace and his colleagues found that these painkillers - when administered with chemical substances that launched hydrogen sulphide into the gut - produced no harmful unwanted side effects.
'Now we are getting ready to repeat these experiments on humans,' mentioned Wallace, who has shaped a company, Antibe Therapeutics, to create medicine based mostly on hydrogen sulphide expertise. 'We envisage using normal medicines, mixed with hydrogen sulphide-releasing chemical substances, as painkillers that won't trigger internal bleeding to long-term users.'
Hydrogen sulphide analysis in drugs started three years in the past when Dr Mark Roth, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle, Washington, discovered that mice exposed to low ranges of the gasoline passed out, their physique temperatures dropped more than 20C and their metabolic rates plunged. Once the gasoline was switched off, they returned to regular. Now Roth is working on research aimed at reproducing the impact in people, shopping for time for patients who have had coronary heart assaults, strokes or wounds which have brought on drastic losses of blood.