ECE faculty Umer Hassan received ONR grant on CNS-Oxygen Toxicity Drug Discovery (OTDD) Therapeutic Platform for Divers

ECE Assistant Professor Umer Hassan has received an ONR research grant on the project, "CNS-Oxygen Toxicity Drug Discovery (OTDD) Therapeutic Platform for Divers." Dr. Hassan is a Sole-PI on the award. It’s a 3 year award with a total budget of $470k.

Oxygen toxicity is a common condition experienced by divers during dive and post hyperbaric therapy for divers suffering with decompression sickness. Many divers use nitrox with up to 40% oxygen for diving, and some use higher levels of oxygen or even pure oxygen for decompression. Higher partial pressure of oxygen (pO2) produces more oxygen radicals (also known as reactive oxygen species, ROS) which are mainly responsible for central nervous system (CNS) and lung toxicity. Although, our cells have innate ability to repair the damage caused by the O2 radicals. However, in diving conditions, as the pO2 and number of O2 radicals are increased, a time reaches, when cells cannot repair the damage as quickly as it occurs. This results in impairment of cellular functions with subsequent cell death. CNS oxygen toxicity (CNS-OT) i.e., toxic effects of oxygen on the brain occur before the toxic effects on the lungs, which further compromises divers’ agility during undersea operations. Oxygen toxicity can result in a range of symptoms, including convulsions, seizures, and respiratory failure, which can be life-threatening. There is a dire need to develop a CNS-Oxygen Toxicity Drug Discovery (OTDD) platform to enable rapid investigation of different therapeutic targets for preventing and/ or treating oxygen toxicity. This proposal will address these challenges and will, (i) develop a platform to enable in-vitro CNS-OT cell model in response to potential therapeutic targets, (ii) investigate and collect data for different neuronal cell lines and individual or combination CNS-OT drugs’ efficacy, and (iii) develop machine learning models to strategize the best dose regiment for oxygen toxicity recovery.
Congratulations to Umer!