Scientists have successfully conducted a clinical trial of administering xenon gas to patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting so that such patients are safe from the brain damage that occurs post operatively after this procedure.
The team administered xenon gas to 12 patients undergoing CABG on cardiopulmonary artery bypass. This treatment could revolutionize the way to treat patients suffering from strokes in whom brain damage and damage to nerve cells is always a risk. In a report published in Anesthesiology, the reserachers detail the fact that earlier preclinical studies had shown that xenon was a neuroprotectant.
This discovery was made while Professor Nick Franks, a biophysicist from Imperial College London was working on possible molecular targets of different anesthetics. We knew from our earlier studies that xenon was effective in stopping damaged nerve cells from dying, but this study is of tremendous importance as it shows that it is feasible to administer xenon safely to a population of patients at risk for developing brain damage. What we need now is a clinical trial to test the efficacy of xenon in large numbers of patients, said Professor Mervyn Maze, an anesthetist from Imperial College London and a member of the xenon research team.
Xenon could provide a whole new way of treating nerve damaging illnesses. Although we can stop people dying from these illnesses, there is not much we can do to stop the nerve damage that ultimately leads to devastating long-term disability. Professor Franks expressed hope that their research would pave the way for many such discoveries, We hope xenon could be developed as a novel treatment. It is naturally occurring, and more importantly, its known lack of toxicity makes it an attractive candidate as a neuroprotectant in humans. Ultimately, we hope xenon could become part of standard medical treatment, with paramedics being able to administer it to stroke and brain-injured victims to stop ongoing nerve cell death.
Contact: Tony Stephenson
Imperial College London