Skip to content

CounterACT Ocular Therapeutics Program

The CounterACT Ocular Therapeutics Screening (COTS) program seeks to identify novel ocular therapeutics that may be administered in a civilian first-responder or emergency care setting to effectively suppress and/or mitigate eye pathologies after sulfur mustard (SM) exposure.

The COTS program supports translational studies evaluating the potential in vivo efficacy of investigational medical countermeasures (MCMs) against eye injuries after exposure to sulfur mustard. 

The primary purpose of the COTS program is to provide investigators with pre-application, pilot proof-of principle efficacy data in support of potential follow-on research efforts.

Proposed studies may not overlap with, but may be performed in concert with, studies conducted through other Chemical Countermeasures Research Program (CCRP) resources.

The COTS program does not replace the need to establish direct collaborations with laboratories certified to work with restricted chemical agents in follow-on research efforts.

Participants will retain custody of and have primary rights to the data developed, subject to government rights of access consistent with current HHS, U.S. Public Health Service, and NIH policies.

All information provided to the NIH contractor will be treated as confidential.

Studies are conducted through a NIAID-supported research facility at no cost to the investigator/supplier.

Eligibility Criteria

The COTS program is available to all investigators with promising MCMs responsive to the mission of the CCRP.

NIH will accept applications from individual principal investigators (PIs) from academic institutions, government laboratories, and companies. PIs may consult with NIH to determine eligibility.

PIs from foreign institutions and non-U.S. components of U.S. organizations are not eligible to apply.

The supplier of the test compound must provide information regarding its toxicity, solubility, and purity, as well as evidence of ex vivo or in vivo efficacy as a potential ocular therapeutic. This information is required before testing of individual analogs and congeners as well.

The supplier must be able to provide a sufficient quantity of the compound with ≥ 95% purity (nuclear magnetic resonance [NMR] or high-performance liquid chromatography [HPLC] analysis) for evaluation in up to 15 animals based on the highest median effective dose (ED50) of the previous efficacy studies.

Screening Model

The COTS program employs an in vivo screening model in animals to determine the efficacy of investigational compounds in mitigating SM-induced ocular damage. Investigators may propose up to two therapeutic regimens for evaluation. NIH will deliver a final study report to the investigator at the end of the study.

Upon request prior to study start, eyes (with optic nerve)  may be provided as a resource to the applicant for further evaluation.

Program Director

If you're interested in more information, including apply to the COTS program, contact:

Director of Lens and Cataract Program

Houmam Araj, PhD

Last updated: January 5, 2022