Researchers led by Dr. Maria F. Braga, a professor in the School of Medicine at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU), have identified a neuroprotective combination therapy that is effective against organophosphate (OP) nerve agent exposure.
Nerve agents are deadly chemical weapons that present a serious and growing threat to military and civilian populations. Nerve agents were used in the Iraq-Iran war, against Kurdish civilians, in terrorist attacks in Japan, and most recently, against civilians in Syria and England. Without intervention, OP nerve agents can cause seizures, which can have serious effects such as brain damage, coma, and even death.
“Current Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved medical countermeasures, benzodiazepines, are inadequate in preventing brain damage or counteracting many of the acute intoxication symptoms of nerve agents, such as arresting seizures,” said Braga. “Brain damage as a result of exposure can lead to long-term neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders.”
Braga first investigated LY293558, or Tezampanel, as a stand-alone treatment for nerve agent exposure with support from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. After promising preclinical results, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority awarded an $89.5 million contract for the advanced research development of Tezampanel.