Developing drug molecules for therapy with carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide (CO) is known as the silent killer – it is colourless, odourless and tasteless and kills around 50 people each year in the UK. So are scientists crazy when they suggest that it could be used to save lives?

Graphical abstract: Developing drug molecules for therapy with carbon monoxideWell, no. Last century a physician discovered that our bodies produce CO. Not only that, but CO levels are higher in sick people than healthy. This suggested that CO could actually be therapeutic and sparked interest from pharmaceutical chemists.

The challenge is to deliver just the right amount of CO safely to diseased tissues. And as Gonçalo Bernardes and colleagues discuss in their Tutorial review, CO-releasing pro-drugs could be the solution. But how do they work and when will we see them in the clinic? Read the review to find out.

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