I was reading a couple of things this morning about good stuff going on in FredCoBio.
The first one is from the Gazette, with the glaring, sensational headline: “EBOLA VACCINE UNDER DEVELOPMENT IN GERMANTOWN LAB”. The story is about my former neighbors and friends at Integrated BioTherapeutics. Even though they moved to MoCo, I give them a pass because Sven & Eric live in Frederick. The article tells the tale of big funding IBT just won, but I do take objection to the haunting tone of the article.
By this I mean there’s no reason to bring up the whole “outbreak” scenario. OK, no reason to bring it up, but let me put it all out in the open:
Careless handling of infected monkeys by humans and accidents in biotechnology laboratories is the main threat posed by Ebola to people in developed countries, although the virus is also seen as a potential bioterror agent, according to the World Health Organization. But most of the 1,850 reported cases and 1,200 deaths recorded since Ebola’s discovery in 1976 through 2005 have come among Africans in mid-continent nations.
The disease kills 30 percent to 90 percent of humans infected by it, preceded by symptoms that include the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. Patients with advanced cases suffer vomiting, diarrhea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function and, in some cases, internal and external bleeding.
Anyone who read Richard Preston’s 1995 non-fiction best-seller “The Hot Zone: A Terrifying True Story,” which tracks the virus from its African victims to Fort Detrick, where researchers and biohazard teams worked to contain an outbreak, might expect a similarly tense atmosphere at Integrated BioTherapeutics. But scientists and technicians in one of the company’s laboratories appeared relaxed as they worked last week. Aman and Warfield said the employees do not face any risk from the virus.
Experiments using the virus itself are conducted only at Fort Detrick, they said. Work at the Germantown laboratory includes testing the vaccine on mice that have not been infected. Aman said the effectiveness of the vaccine is checked by examining how the immune systems of animals react after receiving the vaccine.
Warfield said two Russian scientists accidentally infected themselves on two separate occasions a few years ago and died from the virus. Another scientist, at Fort Detrick, was unharmed in 2004 after an accidental needle prick from a syringe containing the virus, she said.
There, I’ve done it. Highlighted the highlights I didn’t want people to talk about. I am sure this article isn’t going to bring exactly the kind of attention these guys need to help them with their research, but the $65MM bucks ain’t going to hurt…
The other story I found interesting, which I am kind of surprised isn’t getting a little more press, comes from Army.mil/news. It’s a great story and I would suspect all of the Project Management came out of USAMRMC at Ft Detrick. One of the companies, TraumaCure, is just down the road in Bethesda.
Army medicine improves with new dressings
WASHINGTON — The Army continues to improve battlefield medicine by sending two new first-aid products into theater that will potentially save more Soldiers’ lives, said Army medical officials at a Pentagon press conference Oct. 15.
Test results from the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command’s Institute of Surgical Research showed the field bandage Combat Gauze and the WoundStat granular powder both demonstrated marked improvements over what’s currently used in the field said Col. Paul Cordts, Office of the Army Surgeon General.
“These products improve survival, result in less blood loss and improved post-injury blood pressures,” said Cordts.
Excessive blood loss is the number one killer on the battleground, and both products are hemostatic and have the ability to stop bleeding or hemorrhaging quickly in wounds where tourniquets can’t be used, said Cordts.
Measuring three inches by four yards, the gauze uses kaolin to stop the bleeding and the WoundStat is a package of granules that reacts with the blood to form a barrier, preventing more bleeding.
In this conflict more than 92 percent of wounded troops survive their injuries in combat – the highest percentage of any war, according to the U.S. Army Medical Department.
Master Sgt. Horace Tyson, a combat medic, said he attributes the high number of people being saved to the advanced tools the Army provides medics — like hemostatic dressings.
Having recently returned from a 15-month assignment in Iraq as the senior enlisted manager in a battalion aid station in the heart of Baghdad, he said he saw first-hand the benefits of dressings with blood-clotting capabilities.
“I categorize these products as lifesavers for us,” said Tyson, who now works as a senior operations manager for the USAMRMC.
A servicemember can “bleed out”, or hemorrhage to death, Tyson explained, within minutes of being hurt.
“The bandages make the difference between a (Soldier) having no chance of living because he’ll bleed out in five minutes versus me getting him to an aid station within 20 minutes and him staying alive,” said Tyson. “Without the bandages he could be dead.”
With 19 years of experience and four deployments in conflict areas under his belt, Tyson said he’s seen the Army’s scientific research drastically improve medics’ tools and training.
“If we’re going to get something else better for the battlefield, that’s great,” he said.
About 270,000 Combat Gauze was ordered and is expected to be in theater by the end of the year, said Lt. Col. Sean Morgan from Program Executive Office Soldier, the agency fielding most of the bandages. More than 17,000 packages of WoundStat will also be working their way to the field.
Not only are the new dressings expected to save more lives, they also bring significant cost savings to the government, said Cordts. Combat Gauze is less than $30 per dressing compared to currently-used HemCon bandage that uses chitosan from shellfish to stop blood and costs $88 per bandage. WoundStat is also less expensive than the QuikClot granules it replaces.
The Army plans to equip combat lifesavers to carry three gauzes, and eventually every Soldier will have one in their Improved First Aid Kits, said Cordts. Combat medics, who are highly trained in emergency trauma will also be given three gauzes, but will be the only ones to carry WoundStat since it requires more medical expertise to use.
Although the new hemostatic dressings are promising great improvements, Dr. David Baer, ISR’s director of surgical research, said it doesn’t mean the Army isn’t still looking for the next line of products that could offer even more improvements. ISR scientists looked into 20 to 25 other dressings in the last few years before they discovered the Combat Gauze and WoundStat, and he said they will continue their efforts for even more cutting-edge products to save lives.
“The way I think about it is the HemCon was better than the plain gauze, this (Combat Gauze) is better than the HemCon, and it can get incrementally better,” said Baer.