Therapeutic medical gas is pharmaceutical gaseous molecules which offer solutions to medical needs. In addition to traditional medical gases including oxygen and nitrous oxide, a number of medical gases have been recently discovered to play protective roles in various disease conditions. In particular, nitric oxide, carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulfide are found to be endogenously generated in the human body and mediate signaling pathways as biological messengers, and are shown to have potent cytoprotective effects. Herein, we summarize the recent advances of therapeutic medical gas research and discuss their clinical feasibility, typically such as nitric oxide, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, hydrogen, xenon, helium and ozone. A recent increase in publications in the medical gas field clearly indicates that there are significant opportunities for the use of medical gases as therapeutic tools. It would be necessary to identify safety concerns when using therapeutic gases along with potential side effects and toxicity. Although further investigations are required, medical gas may provide a huge impact as a novel and innovative therapeutic tool for unmet medical needs with considerable health burdens.
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