The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is in search of a brand new method to get good and comfortable: The company is funding analysis into medication that would defend folks from excessive chilly. Should these efforts bear fruit, the medication may have a wide range of makes use of, from treating hypothermia sufferers to serving to folks higher discover the Arctic—and, what is unquestionably DARPA’s foremost curiosity, creating troopers who aren’t fazed by freezing situations.
DARPA’s funding for a possible anti-cold drug will come from its Young Faculty Award program, which aims to “provide high-impact funding to elite researchers early in their careers to develop innovative new research that enables transformative [Department of Defense] capabilities.” This week, Rice University announced that school member and bioengineer Jerzy Szablowski has received one among these grants.
Szablowski and his staff will use the cash to research a non-genetic remedy that may improve our adaptation to chilly temperatures by way of thermogenesis, or the bodily manufacturing of warmth. There are two fundamental strategies of thermogenesis in people, with essentially the most acquainted being shivering. But the researchers are extra concerned with enhancing how our our bodies burn off brown adipose tissue (BAT), or brown fats, to maintain heat. As a part of the analysis, Szablowski shall be teaming up with Miao-Hsueh Chen, a BAT skilled and affiliate professor of pediatric diet at Baylor College of Medicine.
“The other type of thermogenesis involves BAT, which is capable of generating heat through a chemical reaction,” mentioned Szablowski in a press release released by Rice University concerning the challenge. “Nonshivering thermogenesis kicks in sooner but is not as efficient, so it cannot generate quite as much heat, at least not in humans.”
The hope is that Szablowski’s staff will discover a method to safely enhance the efficiency of this BAT response. That in flip may minimize down the time it usually takes for folks to regulate to a brand new chilly setting from weeks to hours, or it might assist first responders higher stabilize hypothermia victims. And the insights discovered from this analysis may repay in different methods, too. Scientists elsewhere have theorized that tweaking our BAT response might assist us burn energy extra effectively, as an example, which may presumably assist deal with obesity and other metabolic conditions. The researchers will even be utilizing a brand new screening technique to search for chemical substances that may have an effect on BAT regulation, and so they say this technique may enhance our seek for different medication sooner or later.
“The main innovation of this screening method is that it is mechanism-agnostic, meaning that we might not need to fully understand the disease or physiological process before developing mitigation strategies,” mentioned Szablowski. “Simply put, it would allow us to screen a very large number of drugs.”
Related: Everything DARPA’s Been Doing for the Last 20 Years
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