U.S. scientists have created a new group of plastics that might have broad uses in medicine by releasing nitric oxide. The researchers -- Joseph Hrabie of the National Cancer Institute and colleagues at Northwestern University -- report synthesis of nitric oxide-releasing forms of the most commercially important polyacrylonitrile polymers. The new polymers include a textile, a plastic and a rubber.Hrabie said some of the materials continuously release small amounts of nitric oxide for months allowing the chemical to dilate blood vessels. The scientists believe such technology could be used to reduce undesirable effects such as blood vessel scaring and narrowing that tend to occur after coronary angioplasty and bypass surgery."Many applications of this chemistry in vascular surgery and other medical procedures can be envisioned," the researchers said. "Possible applications of these polymers include arterial stenting, bypass grafting and surgical endarterectomy."The research appeared in the April 4 issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
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