Darpa contract helps researchers combat altitude sickness

Darpa contract helps researchers combat altitude sickness

A Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine researcher has been awarded a $4.7 million contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to fund the development of a new class of drugs that will help soldiers perform better at high altitudes.

"Our blood carries less oxygen at high altitudes, and there's not much we can do about it," says Jonathan Stamler, MD, director of the Institute for Transformative Molecular Medicine and the Robert S. and Sylvia K. Reitman Family Foundation Distinguished Chair in Cardiovascular Innovation at Case Western Reserve and University Hospitals Harington-McLaughlin Heart & Vascular Institute. Low oxygen levels in the blood can lead to altitude sickness, including headaches, nausea, overall fatigue and impaired performance. "If we could improve blood flow in the tissues, we could deliver more oxygen regardless of how much oxygen the blood carries," Stamler says.

Stamler anticipates that the research will generate new physiological information on highaltitude adaptation and new therapies for patients suffering from conditions where oxygen delivery is impaired, including heart failure, ischemic heart disease, stroke, sickle cell disease and diabetes.