Research published this month in Science Translational Medicine suggests that an engineered version of the molecule neuroglobin holds promise as an antidote for carbon monoxide poisoning.

In vitro studies demonstrated that the molecule, called Ngb-H64Q-CCC, binds CO about 500 times more strongly than does hemoglobin, the researchers report in the December 7 issue of Science Translational Medicine.

Incubating the molecule with 100% CO-saturated hemoglobin, either cell-free or in human red blood cells, drastically reduced the half-life of carboxyhemoglobin, the stable complex of carbon monoxide and hemoglobin that forms after CO exposure, freeing the hemoglobin.

“The half-life of CO in human red blood cells treated with neuroglobin is only 25 seconds, compared with a published half-life of 20 minutes with hyperbaric oxygen, the best treatment currently available,” Dr. Gladwin said.

 In studies in CO-poisoned mice, seven out of eight mice given an infusion of the engineered neuroglobin survived. In two control groups with a total of 17 mice that were infused with phosphate-buffered saline or albumin, only one mouse in the saline group survived.
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