Inhibiting specific enzymes during mechanical lung ventilation reduces the amount of potential damage to the lungs, according to results of an animal study published in the February 2008 issue of Anesthesiology.

In a study conducted by Arthur S. Slutsky, MD, a critical care specialist at St. Michael’s Hospital and the University of Toronto, rats were subjected to mechanical ventilation while receiving a drug called PJ-34. The rats receiving ventilation experienced an increase in activity of PARP, an enzyme that senses and repairs DNA damage and maintains cell stability. However, excessive PARP during mechanical ventilation can cause lung damage and contribute to poor lung function.

After treatment with PJ-34, PARP activity was blocked and ventilator-induced damage in the lungs was decreased, according to Slutsky.

Doctors and researchers have already made significant progress treating patients with severe lung diseases. However, this is the first study to show that targeting PARP using pharmacological therapy with PJ-34 might be a preventive measure during mechanical ventilation. According to Slutsky, more research is needed before PJ-34 can be used on humans in any significant way.