Scientists in Texas are reporting development of a first-of-its-kind cloth that releases nitric oxide gas — an advance toward making therapeutic socks for people with diabetes and a wrap to help preserve organs harvested for transplantation. The study is in ACS’ Chemistry of Materials, a bi-weekly journal: “Novel Delivery System for the Bioregulatory Agent Nitric Oxide.”
Kenneth Balkus and Harvey Liu note in the new study that nitric oxide (NO) helps increase blood flow and regulates a range of other body functions. Scientists have tried for years to find practical ways to store and deliver NO for use in medicine. However, they have had difficulty finding a suitable material that allows controlled delivery of NO. Recent studies suggested that zeolites could work. These porous materials soak up and store large amounts of gases like NO.
The scientists describe development of a new bandage composed of nitric oxide-absorbing zeolites embedded in a special water-repellant polymer. In experiments with laboratory rats, the bandage slowly released nitric oxide and increased blood flow. “The bandage could be used to wrap a donor organ ensuring intimate contact and direct delivery of nitric oxide,” the report states. “Additionally, these interwoven fabrics could also find applications in smart textiles such as NO-releasing socks for diabetic patients, who have been shown to produce less nitric oxide than healthy patients.”