National Jewish HealthResearchers Awarded $13M to Evaluate Treatmentsfor Toxic Gases

National JewishHealth researchers have received a near $13 million grant from the NationalInstitutes of Health to evaluate potential rescue medications for victims ofterrorist attacks, wartime use of toxic gases, and/or inhalation disasters. Thegases of greatest interest in these studies will be ‘mustard gas’ (sulfurmustard) and chlorine gas.

“The excitementabout these studies is that they are designed to provide rescue treatments,”said Carl White, MD, principal investigator of the grant.

The grant, part ofthe NIH’s Countermeasures Against Chemical Threats Research Network(CounterACT), is for 5 years. The rescue agents to be given greatest study inthese trials will include fibrinolytics (‘clot busters’), anticoagulants,catalytic antioxidants, and flavonoids (specific herbal remedies). Researcherswill evaluate models of damage to the lungs and airways and to skin.

“We have alreadyfound very encouraging preliminary data in which some of our agents can beeffective even when given several hours after the toxic inhalation,” said Dr.White. “This is important because real world conditions can cause minutes tohours of delay in getting to victims of such tragedies.”

The work involvescollaborations between two teams of investigators at National Jewish Health andone from the University of Colorado School of Pharmacy, as well as acollaborating center at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of ChemicalDefense (USAMRICD).

“The drugs we aretesting work through several different mechanisms so that they may prevent orlimit progressive damage to airways or skin, as well as prevent or clearblockage of airways,” said Dr. White. “It is also exciting that some of the treatmentswe develop may also carry over to other difficult lung diseases of childhoodand adults.”

The initial focusof the research is on the acute injury to lungs and skin occurring in the first24-48 hours of exposure. As the studies progress over the next several years,researchers hope to evaluate the ability of our relatively early interventionsto prevent lung fibrosis and bronchiolitis obliterans that can result from suchexposures.

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