Our Science

What is Nitric Oxide?

Nitric oxide has become one of the most studied molecules in human physiology. A 1998 Nobel Prize-winning discovery lead to research confirming nitric oxide’s natural ability to:

  • Kill invading microorganisms
  • Regulate inflammation
  • Revitalize tissue
  • Prevent clotting
  • And even eradicate cancer cells

It’s Not Nitrous Oxide

Nitric oxide (NO) is often confused with nitrous oxide (N2O, sometimes called “laughing gas”), the anesthetic whose second nitrogen atom creates a completely different structure with different chemical properties. Nitric oxide’s single unpaired electron creates its immense signaling power.

  • NO: Nitric Oxide

  • N2O: Nitrous Oxide

Nitric Oxide Naturally Occurs In The Body

Your body is making nitric oxide every second of every day. The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to scientists who discovered this tiny molecule’s ability to control blood pressure and vascular tone. Nitric oxide, which is produced when the body modifies the essential amino acid L-arginine, is integral to numerous physiological mechanisms.

It’s Your Body’s Defense System

When a threat is present, white blood cells in your immune system engulf invading bacteria, viruses, and fungi, releasing a burst of nitric oxide to destroy the invading organism. Novan created technology to enable targeted delivery of clinically-meaningful amounts of nitric oxide, which can be used to treat patients with many different medical conditions.

A Whole Body Of Applications

Nitric oxide plays an important role in many biological processes. Examples include:

  • Immunology (bacterial, viral, and inflammatory responses)
  • Cardiology/pulmonology (vasodilation/hemostasis, anti-coagulati and respiration)
  • Neurology (neurotransmitter)