Previously Funded Research Programs

Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia

Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) is also known as chronic granulocytic leukemia or chronic myeloid leukemia. CML is an overgrowth of granulocytes, a type of white blood cell; its cause is unknown. The disease accounts for about 20 percent of adult leukemias in Western countries. This year, approximately 5,050 individuals will be diagnosed with CML, and an estimated 470 will die from the disease. In most cases, CML is characterized by a chromosomal abnormality that is known as the Philadelphia chromosome. Treatment usually consists of various chemotherapeutic agents used to disrupt the production of leukemic cells. These treatments may be followed by stem cell transplant.



Deployment Related Medical

The Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs began managing the Department of Defense Deployment Related Medical Research Program (DRMRP) in fiscal year 2008 (FY 08), in response to the supplemental appropriations bill, Public Law 110-252. This program was established to address the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and mitigation of deployment-related injuries and psychological health concerns of deployed military personnel. The FY 08 DRMRP specified the following research topic areas: blood safety and blood products; final development of medical devices for use in theater (including portable suction machines and EKGs for theater hospitals); trauma treatment and rehabilitation (including face, visual/ocular and nerve damage, dental, and auditory systems); traumatic brain injury and psychological health (including post traumatic stress disorder); injury prevention; wound infection and healing; and wound infection vaccines.



Genetic Studies of Food Allergies

Food allergy is an immune system reaction that occurs soon after eating a certain food. Ingestion of an even tiny amount of the allergy-causing food may trigger the sudden release of chemicals, including histamine, resulting in symptoms of an allergic reaction. The symptoms usually begin immediately, within 2 hours after eating and may be mild (rashes, hives, itching, swelling, etc.) or severe (trouble breathing, wheezing, loss of consciousness, etc.). A food allergy frequently starts in childhood, but it can begin at any age. A food allergy is potentially life-threatening and affects an estimated 6 to 8 percent of children under age 4 and about 4 percent of adults (NIAID). Many children outgrow their allergies to milk, egg, wheat, and soy by the time they are 5 years old if they avoid the offending foods when they are young. However, allergies to peanuts, nuts, fish, and shellfish are tend to be lifelong. Currently, there is no cure for food allergies. Strict avoidance of the allergy-causing food is the only way to avoid a reaction. In spite of attempts to avoid allergenic foods, accidental exposures are the major causes of allergic reactions to foods. Over a period of two years, approximately 50 percent of subjects in the United States with food allergy have an allergic reaction to accidental exposure. In the United States, there are approximately 30,000 episodes of food-induced anaphylaxis, associated with 100 to 200 deaths; most deaths occur in adolescents and young adults.

Food allergy risk factors include:

  1. Family history: A person is at increased risk of food allergies if asthma, eczema, hives or allergies, such as hay fever, are common in close family members.
  2. A prior food allergy: Children who have outgrown a food allergy may see it return later in life.
  3. Other food allergies: Individuals already experiencing allergic reactions to certain types of foods may develop allergies to other foods.


Prion Diseases

Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) refer to several apparently related diseases including Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease (CJD) and its new variant (nvCJD), kuru, bovine spongiform encephalopathy ("mad cow disease"), and others. Except for nvCJD,TSEs appear to develop progressively over many years, lead to extensive central nervous system vacuole formation, and are invariably fatal. At present, definitive diagnosis can only be made at autopsy. The diseases are relatively rare in humans but have been documented most extensively in hoofed mammals. The current disease theory attributes TSEs to "prions," normal cell membrane proteins with atypical three-dimensional configurations, transmitted by ingestion or possibly blood transfer. Although a Nobel Prize was awarded for the work underlying this proposed mechanism (Prusiner, 1997), it remains controversial because disease transmission is traditionally associated with an agent capable of replication. The health threats posed by TSEs currently appear to involve the food and blood supplies. These health threats put military beneficiaries in affected areas overseas at risk. Research and development of means for diagnosis, prevention, and treatment face significant difficulties. These include uncertainty about disease mechanisms,TSEs’ slow progression in most cases, the lack of a diagnostic tool, and uncertainty about the similarities between animal and human diseases. In addition,TSE research requires BioSafety Level 3 facilities for some work.




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