Brain damage, a potential post-operative complication following coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) could be prevented by provision of xenon gas, a new study has found. The results of this first successful clinical trial can be found in Anesthesiology journal.
The researchers successfully administered xenon gas safely to a group of 12 patients undergoing CABG. This revolutionary technique could eventually pave way for development of new treatments for diseases associated with nerve damage such as stroke, spinal cord and brain injury.
Previous studies had established the effectiveness of xenon in neuroprotection. It inhibits the cascade of events that occur during stroke or brain/spinal cord injury. These events result in irreversible damage to the brain. Xenon, a neuroprotectant was found to inhibit activity of the glutamate receptor that resulted in nerve death. Prof. Nick Franks accidentally discovered this potential of xenon while he was involved in the identification of specific molecular targets related to anesthetic action.
Following demonstration of the feasibility of xenon administration to at risk individuals for development of brain damage, the researchers are keen about initiating a clinical trial to test the effectiveness of xenon in a large group of patients. Through current medical treatments, it is possible to prevent mortality associated with nerve damage; nothing can be done to inhibit nerve damage that causes long-term disability.
Xenon is a naturally occurring gas and no instances of toxicity has so far been reported, that makes it an ideal candidate for use as a neuroprotectant.