Nitric oxide (NO) is involved in several processes in the skin, including wound healing, pigmentation and regulation of apoptosis. Pharmacological intervention with NO donors appears to be a promising treatment for conditions such as diabetic ulceration. In this issue of Clinical Science, Khan et al. describe the synthesis of a number of NO donors, based on nitrosylated thiosugars, structural changes in which altered the rate of NO release. The in vivo behaviour of one of the donors was then measured by laser Doppler blood flow measurements on the skin. The ability to tailor the pharmacokinetic behaviour of these drugs should be of interest in developing NO donors for clinical use.

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