MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – When speaking with Letha Sooter, Ph.D., about her research, the
old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” comes to mind.

Dr. Sooter, assistant professor in the West Virginia University School of Pharmacy Department of Basic Pharmaceutical Sciences, is doing important work for soldiers and law enforcement personnel facing dangers in the field. She and her team are working on a way to protect troops and officers from being the targets of explosive devices or bio-warfare agents.  

One of the toxins Sooter’s lab is researching is an exotoxin that kills cells rapidly. If this toxin is placed in food or water and then ingested, it can cause serious harm or potential death.

Another target her lab is researching is molecules that are commonly found in explosive devices.

The research process finds molecules that tightly bind to the dangerous target specifically.  Light-weight, hand-held, disposable devices that can sense the bio-warfare agent or explosive material will be created and then issued to those in the field. All the soldier or officer will have to do is use the test on the item in question, and he or she will instantly know if the item has been compromised.

“You never know what type of action might be used to harm our law and armed forces,” Sooter said. “It’s our job to think of what might happen and how we can fix it to prevent our soldiers and officers from being hurt because of it.”


For more information: Amy Newton, School of Pharmacy, 304-293-7192