(February 6, 2012 " Thunder Bay, ON)
Hydrogen sulfide. That rotten egg smell.
Dr. Rui Wang, the Vice-President of Research, Economic Development and
as well as a professor of Biology at Lakehead University, has been fascinated with it
ever since he came across an old, cracked painted Easter egg in his daughter's room
many years ago.
In 2001, Dr. Wang and his research team garnered world-wide recognition in the scientific community when they discovered the mechanism for the production and function of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) in the cardiovascular system in a process catalyzed by an enzyme called CSE.
Now, they've made another ground-breaking discovery.
Toiling away in Lakehead University's Cardiovascular and Metabolic Unit Laboratory for the past three years, Dr. Wang's team of scientists has been trying to figure out how mammalian cells can sense changes in oxygen levels and take necessary measures to cope with hypoxia (oxygen and blood flow deprivation). Hypoxia occurs in life-threatening situations like heart attacks and strokes.
It turns out that H2S gas is key to this puzzle, proving, in Dr. Wang's words, that "we are what we smell."
The results of this major breakthrough will appear today in one of the world's most prestigious scientific journals, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS).
The paper Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) metabolism in mitochondria and its regulatory role in energy production is written by Dr. Wang and fellow co-authors Ming Fu, Weihua Zhang, Lingyun Wu, Guangdong Yang, and Hongzhu Li.
"We have been able to show that the production of H2S is important for the energy supply to our body when it faces specific health threats," Dr. Wang says. "We can use this new knowledge to help biomedical practice deal with different diseases, such as those occurring in the heart or brain."
Paradoxically, H2S " the "sour" gas that produces that distinctively unpleasant and distasteful odour " is actually deadly to humans in high doses. But as Dr. Wang and his team have proven, adequate production of this "toxic" gas in our body could be key to the prevention or treatment of hypertension, heart attacks and strokes in humans.
"Delving further into the mysteries of hydrogen sulfide is one of my main research priorities," he says. "This is just the beginning of our work to find clinical solutions to deal with low oxygen-related diseases."
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Media: For more information or to arrange an interview with Dr. Rui Wang, please contact Tracey Skehan, Communications Officer, at 807-343-8372 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lakehead is a comprehensive university with a reputation for a multidisciplinary teaching approach that emphasizes collaborative learning and independent critical thinking. Over 8,700 students and 1,850 faculty and staff learn and work at campuses located in Orillia, and Thunder Bay, Ontario, which is home to the west campus of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. Lakehead University promotes innovative research that supports local and regional socio-economic needs. In Orillia, development continues on building a campus that meets Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEEDÂ®) standards.