Hydrogen sulphide has been found by scientists to play a key role in the regulation of blood pressure - paving the way for improved cardiovascular treatment.
Researchers at the University of Maryland have found that hydrogen sulphide, which is produced by an enzyme in blood vessels, acts to relax the structures and thereby reduces blood pressure.
According to Dr Solomon Snyder, a Johns Hopkins neuroscientist and co-author of the study, this discovery could lead to the development of new treatments for cardiovascular diseases.
"Now we know hydrogen sulphide's role in regulating blood pressure, it may be possible to design drug therapies that enhance its formation as an alternative to the current methods of treatment for hypertension," he commented.
Hydrogen sulphide isn't the only gas used by the body to regulate blood pressure, and Dr Rui Wang of Lakehead University in Ontario has emphasised that nitric oxide also plays a key role in this area.
However, he believes that both gases are equally important in the process.
'Nature has added on layer upon layer of complexity to provide a better and tighter control of body function - in this case, of blood pressure," he confirmed.
The smell of hydrogen sulphide is similar to that of rotten eggs.
Independent advice on private healthcare