The compound that lends the unmistakable stink to our farts may prove to be an important component in mitigating cell damage.
While flatulence has never been an endearing quality, the compound that lends its signature stinky smell to our farts, is being examined to check if it can be used to control the cell damage that is partly responsible for development of certain diseases. Scientists from the University of Exeter are confident that the smell of rotten eggs and human flatulence is derived from hydrogen sulfide and it plays a vital role, albeit in small quantities, in protecting the mitochondria cells.
The study, published in the journal Medicinal Chemistry Communications, examined the impact of hydrogen sulfide gas—which humans produce in small amounts during digestion—on cells’ mitochondria. Though the fart gas is lethal in higher doses, scientists found out that cells exposed to micro quantities of the compound fared a lot better than those who were kept away from it. In simpler terms, hydrogen sulfide lent immunity to the cells and helped wade off mitochondrial damage.
Though it is very premature to say, scientists are confident that long-term research could yield some fantastic cures, management or prevention of strokes, arthritis, heart disease, among many other things.
Scientists witnessed the phenomenon when diseases started to stress the human cells. In duress, the cells draw in enzymes meant to specifically generate “minute quantities of hydrogen sulfide” that seems to protect mitochondria. Mitochondria essentially act as generators for cells’ energy output. If one can protect the cells against mitochondrial damage, you can stave off or prolong the onset of a number of diseases, said University of Exeter Professor Matt Whiteman,
“We have exploited this natural process by making a compound, called AP39, which slowly delivers very small amounts of this gas specifically to the mitochondria. Our results indicate that if stressed cells are treated with AP39, mitochondria are protected and cells stay alive.”
The results are unfortunately limited to exposing cells directly to the fart gas, minus the stench. So far, scientists haven’t attempted to study the impact of allowing humans to inhale the fart gas, which is the most common and irritating instance. Nonetheless, the University of Exeter researchers say that they are “working toward advancing the research to a stage where it can be tested in humans.”
Though the study is very much in its infancy, knowing that the gas with the offensive odor may allow you to ward off diseases in the near future; could help you bear the stench of a fart.
[Image Credit | Interrete]