Life-saving role of car exhaust catalysts
Technology used in car exhaust catalysts and washing powders could produce new materials for medicine, saving hundreds of lives in the process.
Taking inspiration from porous solids used in car exhaust catalysts, Professor Russell Morris and Drs Tony Butler and Paul Wheatley from the University of St Andrews are preparing new materials to prevent life- threatening blood clotting and thrombosis in patients undergoing surgery and other interventional procedures.
Professor Morris and the team, from the School of Chemistry, have been awarded grants totalling £300,000 from the Leverhulme Trust and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to pursue the studies, involving collaboration with cardiovascular scientists Drs Ian Megson and Adriano Rossi from the University of Edinburgh.
Professor Morris said, “Materials used in car exhausts and washing powders store and deliver the same gas, nitric oxide, which the body produces to prevent clotting. In car exhausts, nitric oxide is a pollutant that we strive to destroy but, delivered in the right amount, it can be beneficial in many areas, from bypass surgery to the promotion of the chronic healing of wounds.
“By changing the composition of the porous solids, we can change how much nitric oxide is released and we have shown how the materials stop platelets from human blood activating, so preventing thrombosis.”
Writing in the most recent issue of Nature (26 August 2004), the St Andrews team has also discovered a new method of preparing these important porous solids using environmentally friendly solvents called ionic liquids.
Professor Morris said, “The sheer number of ionic liquids that have been developed means many more porous solids are possible than was previously the case. This expands the scope of these already very important materials, increasing the likelihood of their finding use in medicine and other emerging technologies.”
Professor Morris is currently Professor of Structural Chemistry and a Royal Society University Research Fellow in the School of Chemistry at the University of St Andrews. ENDS
NOTE TO EDITORS – Professor Morris can be contacted today on 01334 463818.
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