Serendipitous findings while researching oxygen free radicals.

Research paper by Robert A RA Floyd

Indexed on: 15 May '09Published on: 15 May '09Published in: Free Radical Biology & Medicine


This review is based on the honor of receiving the Discovery Award from the Society of Free Radical Biology and Medicine. The review is reflective and presents our thinking that led to experiments that yielded novel observations. Critical questioning of our understanding of oxygen free radicals in biomedical problems led us to use and develop more direct and extremely sensitive methods. This included nitrone free radical spin trapping and HPLC-electrochemical detection. This technology led to the pioneering use of salicylate to trap hydroxyl free radicals and show increased flux in ischemia/reperfused brain regions and also to first sensitively detect 8-hydroxyl-2-deoxyguanosine in oxidatively damaged DNA and help assess its role in cancer development. We demonstrated that methylene blue (MB) photoinduces formation of 8-hydroxyguanine in DNA and RNA and discovered that MB sensitively photoinactivates RNA viruses, including HIV and the West Nile virus. Studies in experimental stroke led us serendipitously to discover that alpha-phenyl-tert-butylnitrone (PBN) was neuroprotective if given after the stroke. This led to extensive commercial development of NXY-059, a PBN derivative, for the treatment of stroke. More recently we discovered that PBN nitrones have potent anti-cancer activity and are active in preventing hearing loss caused by acute acoustical trauma.