New pharmaceuticals may lead to increased protection against nerve agents

This graphic depticts the action of DDVP, a nerve agent simulant with the interfereing nanosponge scavenger.. | Courtesy of the American Chemical Society
The Defense Video and Imagery Distribution Services (DVIDS) announced on Thursday recent findings of pharmaceutical material that may be able to provide protection against nerve agents.

A research team from the University of Californina in San Diego has reported that the use of nanosponge scavengers may be a potential protective measure against a wide variety of nerve agents, as it affects the mechanism these compounds use to cause damage.

The scavengers contain the receptors that the nerve agents typically attach to that exist on human cells. Because the scavenger attracts the toxins to itself rather than the compound's target, it is thought that this method could have potential as a protective measure in a chemical attack.

Tests involving mice showed that mice with a dose of the scavengers were protected from the normally harmful effects of DVVP, an insecticide that acts as a nerve agent simulant.

Currently there are no approved countermeasures against nerve agents that can be taken internally, only protective equipment worn on the outside of the body are able to intercept compounds of this type.

This research was lead by Lianfang Zhang with the management of Brian Plate of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency's (DTRA) Chemical and Biological Technology Department.

This research is still in its early stages. The teams from the DTRA and the university have taken steps to further their research into a potential solution.

Organizations in this story

Defense Threat Reduction Agency 8725 John J Kingman Rd Fort Belvoir, VA 22060

Get notified the next time we write about Defense Threat Reduction Agency!