Saturday, July 7, 2012

Navy's Biomedical Research

The Naval Medical Research Unit at San Antonio (NAMRU-SA) is one of the Navy’s newest biomedical research laboratories. According to an article in “Naval Medical Research and Development News”, Dr. Rene Alvarez, Principal Researcher in the Dental and Biomedical Research Department, reports that researchers are using proteomic and genomic biomarkers as a rapid diagnostic to identify infections in warfighters.

Up until now, field doctors and surgeons have needed up to several days to identify the cause of an infection, but Dr. Alvarez is hoping to reduce that to hours or even minutes by using point-of-care devices.

The laboratory is also doing research in the areas of mercury abatement and mercury filtering. The Atomic Absorption Spectrometer is now being used in the laboratory and is capable of detecting seven different elements, including mercury down to the parts-per-trillion level.

The laboratory researchers have been able to install mercury abatement filters in a typical dental chair. This means that dental clinics on shore and at sea will have the ability to remove mercury waste from dental rinse water at a level never before possible.

This is important since it is expected that a new and strict standard is going to be introduced soon by EPA that will require dental offices to ensure that they are not contaminating waste water systems with mercury. The machine will enable Navy clinics to make certain that they are meeting and exceeding EPA requirements. Right now the Mercury Abatement Filters, developed at NAMRU-SA are being shipped and installed in Navy dental clinics.

The other laboratory research at NAMRU-SA is focused in their Trauma Medicine Program (TMP within the Combat Casualty Care Research Department. Researchers are developing drug products and advanced therapies for the treatment of hemorrhagic shock as well as trauma associated conditions, and complex injuries. TMP is working to harness pharmaceutical, biotechnology-based and medical device-based technologies to develop cutting edge solutions for trauma related pathologies.