Their work has already shown a short-term protection for the brain against chemicals that cause seizures. Now, Manisha Patel, PhD, and her team of students at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences are working to show benefits that will protect the brain from damage caused by seizures produced by nerve agents such as Soman or Sarin gas. The U.S. government is providing $4.3 million to develop and test a drug which may someday protect soldiers.
Patel is the principal investigator on the project that recently received the award from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at the National Institutes of Health. Aeolus Pharmaceuticals is the biotechnology company that has developed the compound known as AEOL 10150. Patel and her team of researchers completed a pilot study tot demonstrate the neuroprotection. Their work can now advance to a full study in nerve-agent toxicity.
Many chemicals used in warfare and pesticides produce seizures,” said Patel. “When these seizures are prolonged, they can be devastating to the brain. This study will develop an antidote to prevent the harmful effects of those chemicals.”
For Patel, the study brings her life’s work full circle. The neurotoxicologist and professor first studied the impact of chemical-induced damage on the brain in college, but she has spent her professional career studying how brain damaged caused by seizures occurs in patients with epilepsy.
The award is for five years and Patel and her team must meet certain targets to receive ongoing funding. Should the results be repeated from the pilot study then the government can decide to move the drug to stockpiles where it will be available to military personnel exposed to nerve poisons such as sarin gas.