may hold diseasesí secrets
Nitric oxide is just one molecule among millions in the body. Yet, unlocking the secrets of this one molecule could be the key to successful treatments for patients suffering from septic shock, resistant hypertension, arthritis, impotence, impaired gastrointestinal function and diabetes, as well as anemia accompanying infections.
Bettie Sue Masters, PhD, the Robert A. Welch Foundation Professor in Chemistry in the Health Science Centerís department of biochemistry, has made nitric oxide a focal point of her research. The reason? Nitric oxide is involved in numerous regulatory processes in the body, controlling neural transmission in the brain and skeletal muscle, tumor and bacterial killing in various tissues, and blood pressure in the circulatory system. Her work is internationally recognized and helped her gain membership in the prestigious Institute of Medicine of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.
Because of the role of nitric oxide, the enzymes that produce this molecule are very important as targets in the design of specific drugs. The administration of nitric oxide has been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of respiratory distress syndrome in children, and inhibitors of the enzymes have been used in the emergency treatment of septic shock.
Dr. Mastersí studies have shed light on the structure and function of nitric oxide-producing enzymes, and will make the design of more specific therapeutic agents possible in the future.
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