Dr. Ishad Chaundry. (Photo courtesy of UAB news).Dr. Ishad Chaundry. (Photo courtesy of UAB news).Ashton Cook - Staff Writer

Irshad Chaudry, Ph.D., made a major development in his research. Chaudry, the director of the Center for Surgical Research in the UAB School of Medicine, found that synthetic estrogen could potentially save the lives of soldiers on the battlefield. The female sex hormone is associated with prolonging survival despite significant blood loss. As a result of this development, UAB received a $10 million U.S. Department of Defense contract.

A mistake in a shipment of mice in 1997 caused this development. Chaudry and his partner Rene Zellweger, M.D. were experimenting with the mechanisms involved with sepsis, a bacterial blood infection known to cause multiple organ failure and hemorrhaging. They were supposed to receive a shipment of male mice, but all of them were female. They decided to use the mice anyway and were surprised to see that the female mice all resisted the sepsis. They repeated the test again with another batch of female mice, but instead, they all became ill and died. After further research, they discovered that the first group of mice were in a proestrus phase, meaning that their estrogen hormones were at their highest point.

Chaudry and Zellweger tested the effects of applying estrogen to male and female mice in order to see how they respond to blood loss.

They learned that with the application of estrogen, mice that experienced major blood loss were able to resuscitate with strong vitals.

The effect was not expected, and it remains a minor mystery, as explained by Dr. William Hubbard, a colleague of Dr. Chaudry. “We think that, in fact, it allows the mitochondria to continue to produce ATP, allowing it to survive,” Hubbard said.

Although, normally, the mice should have suffered from organs shutting down due to the lower blood pressure, with the high amounts of estrogen, the mice were able to tolerate the lower pressure and survive.

At this point, the team is preparing to experiment with human subjects in order to see if estrogen may be used to help soldiers resist health maladies relating to blood loss.

Micah Myricks, a junior Management major with a concentration in production operations, is an ROTC member who served in the National Guard. “The addition of a drug used to help prevent death by blood loss would be wonderful,” Myricks said. “In that military occupational specialty [infantryman], being shot at is a great possibility. We are trained to stop mass blood loss in various ways. It’ll definitely be good to have something like this but I would wonder about the long term effects.”

Many soldiers die in the combat zone due to the inability to get them medical assistance fast enough to stop the effects of major blood loss, but with the drug being manufactured based on the research done with estrogen, it is possible that soldiers will have a way to survive losing a major amount of blood. Over the next year, there hopefully will be definite results on the drug, and death by blood loss will become less of a possibility.
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