UAB has won a $3.4 million, three-year grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to establish a Research Center of Excellence to study the effect of chlorine gas on lung function and find agents that can treat or neutralize the effects of chlorine exposure.
“At present, there is no known agent that can be given to patients to specifically treat exposure to chlorine,” said Sadis Matalon, Ph.D., professor of anesthesiology and program director of the center. “We have some supplemental treatments that seem to be helpful, although how and why they work is not well understood.”
The new center is a partnership between UAB, Yale University and Southern Research Institute.
UAB already is part of the NIH-sponsored CounterACT Research Network, which links universities and research institutions researching treatments for toxic chemical exposure.
Chlorine gas first was used as a weapon in World War I and has been used by terrorists in Iraq within the past year. Chlorine exposure could also affect large populations in the event of an industrial or transportation mishap.
Matalon and colleagues have been examining three antioxidants as possible drugs for chlorine exposure, ascorbic acid, N-acetyl-cysteine and deferoxamine. The preliminary results helped convince NIH reviewers that UAB scientists were on the right track. Matalon says the establishment of the UAB Pulmonary Injury and Repair Center in June of this year also demonstrated UAB’s commitment to research in this field.
“The Pulmonary Injury and Repair Center links researchers and clinicians from across the medical spectrum at UAB, and cements our reputation as innovators in the study of pulmonary injury,” Matalon said. “It shows that UAB is willing to devote the resources and infrastructure necessary to maximize the investment NIH is making.”
The Research Center of Excellence draws on UAB’s expertise in lung injury and the study of free radicals, on Yale University’s strengths in asthma research and the molecular basis of airway hyper-reactivity and Southern Research’s work in aerosol systems of drug delivery.