The National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Environmental Health Services has awarded Duke Anesthesiology’s Satya Achanta, DVM, PhD, DABT, a two-year, $442,750 R21 grant for his project, titled “Inhibition of Soluble Epoxide Hydrolase Protects Against Phosgene-Induced Lung Injuries.”
The toxic effects of phosgene gas were first reported in 1899 by a group of anesthesiologists and surgeons due to the conversion of chloroform to phosgene. In modern times, phosgene is widely used as a chemical intermediate in the chemical manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, polymers, dyes, and other products. Despite the use of phosgene as a chemical weapon since World War I, there is no effective antidote.
Phosgene gas-exposed victims experience chest tightness and shortness of breath at about six to eight hours after inhalation, with progressive hypoxia and severe pulmonary edema leading to high mortality. The recovered individuals may experience long-term symptoms such as airway and pulmonary remodeling, and asphyxia. Currently, symptomatic treatment is provided to victims. Therefore, phosgene gas remains an important threat, potentially released in industrial accidents, diverted, or synthesized by terrorist groups.
In the funded proposal, Achanta and his team will identify and test novel therapeutic drugs that inhibit factors contributing to pulmonary injury and promote the resolution of the injury. The project is part of the portfolio of NIH’s Countermeasures against Chemical Threats (CounterACT) Program, a trans-agency initiative launched by the Department of Health and Human Services after the 9/11 attacks to improve the nation’s preparedness and to engage academia in countermeasures research. Achanta made significant contributions to the medical countermeasures research over the past nine years, in collaboration with Duke Anesthesiology’s Dr. Sven-Eric Jordt.