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(Last updated 10/23/06)

Previous stories pertaining to Professor Sayre's research:

"Super-Sized Cassava Plants May Help Fight Hunger In Africa," 5/24/06.

"Ultrasound And Algae Team Up To Clean Mercury From Sediments," 3/24/06.

Researchers Get To The Root Of Cassava's Cyanide-Producing Abilities (5/12/03).

Research Team Receives $7.5 Million To Study Cassava (6/28/05).

OHIO STATE RESEARCHERS SHARE IN $14.4 MILLION GRANT TO FIGHT CHEMICAL WARFARE AGENTS

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A chemist and a plant biologist will each lead one of six projects funded by a new program to develop antidotes to poisoning by chemical warfare agents.

The National Institutes of Health-supported program, Countermeasures Against Chemical Threats (CounterACT), aims to develop effective measures to prevent damage caused by exposure to highly lethal chemical agents such as the nerve gas sarin.

Richard Sayre

CounterACT addresses the critical need for improved antidotes for civilian populations vulnerable to chemical agent poisoning by a terrorist attack, according to NIH.

The NIH awarded the $14.4 million grant to the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense (USAMRICD), which in turn chose to fund six related projects at five different research institutions.

Richard Sayre, a professor of plant cellular and molecular biology at Ohio State, will receive at least $2.8 million of the grant over the next five years. He'll work with co-principal investigators and Ohio State professors Thomas Magliery, chemistry, and George Wang, chemistry and biochemistry.

Sayre's team will use the money to produce large-scale amounts of recombinant human proteins that are able to detoxify lethal nerve gas agents. To do so, they'll combine genes from specific human proteins with genes from algae. They'll then develop techniques to grow the hybrid algae in mass quantities.


Sayre's team will use the money to produce large-scale amounts of recombinant human proteins that are able to detoxify lethal nerve gas agents. To do so, they'll combine genes from specific human proteins with genes from algae.


"Such a product could be used preemptively or after exposure to prevent toxicity or damage due to chemical agent exposure,” said Sayre, adding that testing the products' effectiveness against chemical agents will take place at USAMRICD, and not on Ohio State's campus.

Christopher Hadad, a professor of chemistry at Ohio State, will receive $1.7 million over the next five years to create an agent that would improve the ability of certain enzymes to break down toxic chemicals in the body. Speeding up their ability to do so could significantly decrease their toxic effects on the body.

“We want to come up with one or two biological agents that will provide enhanced protection against poisoning from chemical warfare agents in military or civilian settings,” Hadad said. Co-principal investigators on Hadad's team include Magliery as well as Terry Gustafson and Matthew Platz, both professors of chemistry at Ohio State.

The other institutions receiving CounterACT grants are USAMRICD, the Human Biomolecular Research Institute in San Diego, the Weizmann Institute in Israel and Arizona State University.

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Contact: Richard Sayre, (614) 292-2587; Sayre.2@osu.edu

Christopher Hadad, (614) 688-3141; Hadad.1@osu.edu

Written by Holly Wagner, (614) 292-8310; Wagner.235@osu.edu