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Texas A&M Health Researchers Receives $3.2 million Grant

Researchers at Texas A&M hope to find how soldiers' genetics could effect how they get sick. 

A Texas A&M research team received a $3.2 million grant from the Department of Defense's Defense Advance Research Project to help determine what makes deployed soldiers more susceptible to diseases.

“DARPA is interested in these types of pathogens because they send soldiers out into the battlefield," Helene Andrews-Polymenis said, a lead principle investigator on the research project. "They would like to delay or prevent illness that solders might get when they get exposed to these types of pathogens during their active service.”

Helene Andrews-Polymenis and her team that includes David Threadgill, a Texas A&M professor in Genome Sciences, are looking specifically a soldiers tolerance of specific bacteria. Essentially this means how someone gets infected with a bacteria, but does not get sick.

“The ultimate goal is to try and identify ways we can potentially delay or prevent from people from developing diseases when they are exposed an infectious agent or infectious bacterium," Andrews-Polymenis said.

They are researching three specific types of salmonella, a food born illness.

The genetically different mice that will be used in the research was bred by David Threadgill. This is to help replicate our societies different genetic makeup.

“So humans are not genetically identical so using this tool should help us better understand how the infected host does to influence the outcome of the infection," Andrews Polymenis said. “Any knowledge we get that we gain through to this project can apply not only to soldiers or war fighter but also can be applied to the general public.”

The research is expected to begin in two weeks, and they hope in three years to have a better understanding of what makes certain genetic makeups more tolerant to diseases.