The New York Times profiles research by Harvey A. Liu and Kenneth J. Balkus Jr. of the University of Texas at Dallas to create a therapeutic nitric oxide releasing bandage. Nitric oxide can play a significant role in peripheral vasodilation, relaxation of pulmonary vasculature, and other physiological processes, such as penile erection. Therefore, an effective method of delivering this free radical should allow the development of new types of vascular stockings, bandages, and other therapeutic (or recreational) devices.
A snippet from NYT:
As they describe in a paper in Chemistry of Materials, the researchers use a zeolite, an aluminosilicate mineral that has a three-dimensional cage structure. Zeolites have been shown to be able to store and release nitric oxide and other chemicals. They embed the mineral in fibers of a biocompatible polymer, polylactic acid, as they are spun and form a tissue-like mat. The fibers are then infused with nitric oxide; by controlling the porosity of the fibers, the researchers could control the release of the gas.
The researchers say the resulting material could be incorporated into socks for diabetics that would deliver nitric oxide through the skin. It might also prove useful before transplants as a wrapping for organs to help preserve them outside the body for longer.
Abstract in Chemistry of Materials: Novel Delivery System for the Bioregulatory Agent Nitric Oxide
*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*