Carbon monoxide is mainly known as a product of incomplete combustion and a life-threatening toxic gas. Carbon monoxide forms an extremely strong bond with hemoglobin in red blood cells, more than 200 times as strong as with oxygen; this prevents oxygen from binding to the red blood cells and distributing oxygen to the tissues and thus leads to asphyxiation. However, less well known are its therapeutic effects, the clinical use of which has been investigated in several studies. Carbon monoxide is an important signaling molecule involved in the regulation of many physiological and pathophysiological processes. Through its involvement in the regulation of signaling pathways within cells, it exerts anti-inflammatory, anticoagulant, and antiproliferative effects that may be used, for example, in the treatment of malignant tumors or following organ transplantation.
The main problem preventing its use in therapy is associated with its administration. For example, while delivering the gas by inhalation is relatively simple, it presents several disadvantages, including its non-targeted action and acute toxicity. A possible solution to circumvent this problem is administering carbon monoxide using novel molecular carriers that allow its release at a specific location and time. The preparation of such molecules, so-called photoCORMs (i.e., light-activated carbon monoxide releasing molecules) allowing the release of carbon monoxide by using light, is the research focus of Prof. Petr Klán and his team. The team has synthesized molecules capable of releasing carbon monoxide in a controlled manner. In collaboration with Prof. Libor Vitek's team from Charles University, they have tested them in model cell cultures.
The research was published in the prestigious Journal of Organic Chemistry in March 2022 and featured in the ACS Editors' Choice. The ACS Editors' Choice is a selection of the most interesting articles for the scientific community. Furthermore, the article was also last month’s most-read article.
The scientific article was published in Journal of Organic Chemistry.