The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the University of Colorado's Pediatric Airway Research Center will research the possible uses of an approved drug against sulfur mustard exposure, they announced Sept. 23.
The drug is already approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be used to treat cases of stroke and heart attacks, operating by breaking up blood clots. The contract, worth nearly $1 million over 18 months, is awarded from the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response through the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA).
Sulfur mustard is more commonly known as mustard gas and is considered to be a chemical weapon, and it was used largely in the First World War. More recently, attacks involving mustard gas have been reported in Syria.
“Chemical threats are of grave concern because of how quickly they can produce lethal injury,” BARDA Director Robin Robinson said. “That we may be able to adapt a drug that doctors have used for years in other settings to treat victims of mustard gas exposure testifies to the value of our repurposing efforts.”
The university will be tasked with developing the non-clinical tests in order to test this new capacity.