If you’re a native Chicagoan like me, you’ve probably been dreaming of an antidote to harsh winter conditions. According to a recent Gizmodo article, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is too. The agency is funding research to develop drugs to protect humans against extreme cold for a variety of uses. The hypothetical drug could help patients better explore the Arctic, and protect soldiers from freezing conditions.
DARPA’s funding comes via its Young Faculty Award Program, the goal of which is to “provide high-impact funding to elite researchers early in their careers to develop innovative new research that enables transformative [Department of Defense] capabilities. The winner of one of this year’s grants is bioengineer and faculty member at Rice University Jerzy Szablowski who will look for a non-genetic treatment to enhance cold temperature tolerance with the body’s own production of heat. The most common form of so-called thermogenesis is shivering, but the team is more interested in improving the body’s ability to burn off brown adipose tissue, aka brown fat, to keep warm.