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Study aims to develop new treatment for soldiers injured in combat

April 17, 2024
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Finding new ways to improve soldier survival and recovery is happening off the battlefield and at the University of Washington. 

Dr. Nathan White is leading the U.S. Department of Defense-funded project that will focus on developing a novel anti-inflammatory melanocortin fusion protein for tactical combat casualty care. The protein will target key receptors in various tissues to exert wide-ranging anti-inflammatory effects for soldiers who receive multiple injuries on the battlefield. 

White, alongside his co-investigator Dr. Susan Stern and the fusion protein’s creator Dr. Ronald Berenson, will evaluate the protein’s therapeutic effects on resuscitation, brain injury, and overall survival in preclinical models of polytrauma. If successful, the melanocortin fusion protein will enhance resuscitation, prevent secondary brain injury, and stabilize casualties during tactical combat casualty care, allowing for improved survival and recovery.   

“There is a recognized inflammatory storm created by severe trauma linked to morbidity and mortality," said White. "Our approach is to target this storm using a powerful fusion protein given early during trauma care.”  

The small, easily transportable molecule design aligns with the need for practical solutions in battlefield settings, according to Dr. White. This project aligns with the FY23 Defense Medical Research and Development Program’s (DMRDP) Trauma Immunology Research Award (TIRA) Focus Area, by addressing the development of innovative treatments for severe polytrauma and associated immune responses.  

The primary beneficiaries of this research would be military personnel facing severe injuries in the line of duty. The study will run for three years and results are expected in 2027. 

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