Picked your nose? You’ve found the key to heart disease

May 14th, 2009 - 12:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, May 14 (IANS) The substance that makes snot green holds the key to halting progression of heart disease, says a new study. What scientists have to do is to control the green substance with nitroxides, it adds.
“It might sound disgusting, but the same goop that makes snot green gets dumped in our arteries during heart disease,” said Michael Davies, professor at the Heart Research Institute (HRI), study co-author.

The purpose of snot is to trap dust particles, germs and pollen in the nasal cavities. Snot appears green due to the presence of myeloperoxidase, an enzyme found in it.

It is normally called into action by our immune systems to kill off bacteria, by producing the powerful oxidant hypochlorous acid - the main ingredient in household bleach.

“Although hypochlorous acid is a vital component of the body’s defence system against bacteria, it is also highly reactive and can damage tissues when produced in the wrong place, at the wrong time or at excessive levels,” warned Davies.

“This has been shown to contribute to a number of diseases such as atherosclerosis, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and some cancers,” he added.

“Because of the common occurrence and far reaching medical consequences of these diseases, we wanted to find a safe way of controlling myeloperoxidase,” comments Davies.

The team has developed antioxidant compounds called nitroxides that are very effective at preventing myeloperoxidase from producing hypochlorous acid.

There is now considerable hope that the discovery will lead to a new drug to treat heart disease and other inflammatory diseases, said an HRI release.

“Nitroxide compounds are very exciting,” Davies says. “Finding drugs that can tame the green goop in arteries is a very important step forward. We think nitroxides have great potential to improve and save the lives of many.”

The paper will be published in Biochemical Journal.

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