MRICD introduces new capability for studying the toxicity of airborne chemical threats

With a traditional ribbon cutting, Maj. Nizamettin Gul (left) and Col. Bruce Schoneboom, USAMRICD commander, marked the introduction of the Institute's state-of-the-art glovebox system, seen in the background, Oct. 19. (Photo by Stephanie Froberg, USAMRICD)

The U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., presented its newest advanced capability for inhalation toxicology research Oct. 19. The novel system, developed jointly by USAMRICD research and facilities staffs, Edgewood area garrison engineers, the Baker Company, and the STERIS Corporation, is the first to combine a large, multi-station glovebox with an automatic vapor decontamination system.

"Congratulations to everyone who played a role in this multiyear, multimillion dollar effort," said Col. Bruce Schoneboom, USAMRICD commander, at the opening of the renovated laboratory that houses the system.

"This is a new concept," continued Schoneboom. "It has never been done before and makes the MRICD unique among the various organizations developing medical countermeasures for chemical warfare agents and toxic industrial compounds."

The system is comprised of a 19-foot Baker glovebox with two six-foot work areas and two pass boxes. The glovebox is combined with a STERIS hydrogen peroxide/ammonia vapor decontamination system to neutralize chemical agent within the workspace and to allow for rapid reconfiguration of the equipment within. Both work areas also feature gull-wing doors to facilitate equipment reconfiguration between experiments, after proper decontamination has been performed.

The MRICD's inhalation toxicology research group, led by Dr. Alfred Sciuto, has used for several years a small glovebox to study the effects of inhaled chemical agents.

"This new system was devised to increase overall safety, capability, versatility, and convenience for performing gas and aerosol studies," explains Dr. Dorian Olivera, a principal investigator in the inhalation toxicology research group. "The added ability to thoroughly decontaminate between different experiments eliminates cross contamination when different agents are used. Additionally, each work area features a rapid transfer port to facilitate safe introduction of new materials or removal of contaminated materials during agent operations."

"Overall, the system will allow us to increase our throughput in experiments, giving us a higher turnaround than was previously available," added Olivera.

According to Maj. Nizamettin Gul, chief of MRICD's Analytical Toxicology Division, which has management oversight of the lab, "The enhanced capability of this system further establishes MRICD's designation as the Department of Defense Center of Excellence for Medical Chemical Defense Research."

The glovebox will be used in important studies to discover therapeutics to treat exposure to a wide variety of toxic chemicals, in support of Department of Defense and National Institutes of Health CounterAct programs.

"As our projects move forward concurrently with the development of protocols addressing agent-specific decontamination," said Olivera, "the glovebox will be the centerpiece for the institute's Inhalation Core Center, a customer-driven, broadly capable center for toxicant gas, vapor, and aerosol research."

MRICD is the nation's center of excellence for medical chemical defense research. For more information about the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense, visit its website at http://usamricd.apgea.army.mil/external link and Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/USAMRICDexternal link.

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Last Modified Date: 13-Nov-2012