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Medical Countermeasures Against Chemical Threats

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Nervous System

Long-Term Goals

  • Expand knowledge of the mechanisms by which chemical agents affect the nervous system and its neuroexcitatory pathways
  • Expand knowledge of the physiological responses to toxic chemicals, including oxidative stress, at the cellular and molecular levels, and the inflammatory changes and other immune responses following chemical exposure
  • Identify mechanisms and types of injury and recovery associated with specific nerve agents and the anti-seizure responses to anticonvulsants
  • Identify any differences in the susceptibility of different civilian populations to the toxic effects of nerve agents
  • Determine the applicability and safety of specific medical countermeasures to different subpopulations in the United States, to include those with pre-existing illnesses or taking other medications
  • Identify acute and chronic neurological effects of exposure to high and low levels of chemical agents and strategies for intervention
  • Identify new rapid screening techniques or diagnostic tools that can be used in the evaluation of individuals during and following suspected chemical exposure
  • Identify biomarkers of injury to help identify the specific chemicals responsible for observed neurological symptoms
  • Support technologies used in portable assessment devices that could prove useful in the initial evaluation and treatment of chemically induced seizures during a mass casualty situation
  • Evaluate different safe and effective routes of administration of FDA-approved anticonvulsants and other drugs
  • Develop new enzyme reactivators that are broadly effective against groups of nerve agents, including those agents, such as soman, that make the body refractory to treatment over time
  • Develop bioscavengers that can break down nerve agents into inert substances
  • Evaluate approaches to eliminate and/or deactivate nerve agents from body surfaces and open wounds to prevent further absorption, exposure, and injury
  • Develop appropriate animal models of acute and chronic chemically induced neurological injury that parallel the human experience
  • Establish databases of clinical, epidemiological, and laboratory information that will contribute to the understanding of the mechanisms of nerve agent-induced injury, and the acute and chronic effects of high and low level exposure

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Last Updated February 29, 2008