Within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the NIH has taken a leadership role in pursuing the development of new and improved medical countermeasures (to include alternative routes of delivery of existing therapeutics) designed to prevent, diagnose, and treat the conditions caused by potential and existing chemical agents of terrorism (e.g. toxins targeting the eyes, skin, metabolic pathway, neurological, and pulmonary systems). In addition, many of the same chemicals posing a threat as terrorist agents may also be released from transportation and storage facilities by industrial accidents or during a natural disaster.
The NIH has developed a comprehensive Countermeasures Against Chemical Threats (CounterACT) Research Network that includes Research Centers of Excellence, individual research projects, SBIRs, contracts and other programs. This trans-NIH CounterACT network conducts basic, translational, and clinical research aimed at the discovery and/or identification of better therapeutic medical countermeasures against chemical threat agents, and facilitates their movement through the regulatory process. The overarching goal of this research program is to enhance our medical response capabilities during an emergency.
Agents of interest include (but not limited to): methyl mercury, methyl isocyanate, cyanide, phosgene, chlorine, sulfur/nitrogen mustard, Lewisite, neurotoxic OP pesticides (e.g. parathion, chlorpyrifos, etc), chemical warfare agents. Scope of research may include identification of new or existing therapeutics that can treat victims of a chemical emergency, model development, biomarker identification to guide therapeutic intervention, modeling of long-term sequelae from a single acute exposure incident, alternative route of administration of currently available drugs to enable use in a mass casualty scenario, etc.
For more information, including active funding opportunity announcements, see: www.ninds.nih.gov/counteract