New Drug Could Keep You Warm Even When It’s Freezing?

DARPA is funding a drug from bioengineer, Jerzy Szablowski, which will help to speed up the process of the body warming itself up.

By James Brizuela | Updated

jack nicholson the shining DARPA

For those who live in colder temperatures around the globe, freezing might be a thing of the past. A new drug is going to be developed by Jerzy Szablowski, a bioengineer at Rice University. The Defense Advance Research Project Agency (DARPA) has given Szablowski the prestigious Young Faculty Award for his gains to find and create this new cold-killing drug. The purpose of this new nongenetic drug is to boost the body’s natural resilience to extremely cold temperatures.

Szablowski is also an assistant professor for bioengineering at Rice’s George R. Brown School of Engineering, and it is there that he will develop a new screening method for finding drugs that can increase the cold adaptation process of brown adipose tissue (BAT). Apparently, this tissue in the human body reacts when the body gets cold and produces functions like shivering. DARPA will be funding this new search for this potential miracle drug.

When the body gets cold, it immediately goes into a process called thermogenesis, which this new DARPA-funded drug will address. This process has two different functions, one of which is shivering, which everyone has experienced in their lives. Szablowski stated, “If you are getting ill and you are developing a fever, you begin to shiver, and that shivering raises your body temperature…the problem is that you lose dexterity and it is really unpleasant.”


Apparently, this new drug that will be funded by DARPA would help to speed up or expand the process that BAT tissue engages in through a natural chemical reaction. The brown fat in the body breaks down blood sugar and other fat molecules, though Szablowski has stated that it does not provide enough heat to the body. This new drug would help to speed up or enhance the process, which would provide an increasing amount of heat.

This would be quite a revolutionary drug, as it could be used for those who have to work in sub-zero climates or happen to be hiking in less-than-favorable conditions. If a person is stranded for any reason when it’s extremely cold outside, they could take this drug to save their lives, or give them a chance at survival until help arrives. DARPA likely heard this pitch and was immediately wanting to give Szablowski the necessary funding to find this new drug.

Szablowski will be working with Miao-Hsueh Chen, through the DARPA award that was given, as both will partner to create and find this cold-snapping drug. Chen works as an associate professor of pediatric nutrition at the Baylor College of Medicine. The drug will focus on non-shivering thermogenesis, which could be targeted to treat those who have fallen victim to hypothermia.

This new screening process that Szablowski is going to be engaging in will allow him and his research team to explore a vast variety of drugs that could potentially be used to speed up thermogenesis. DARPA stepped in to give him the award, simply because this could save countless lives should it be a feasible option in the future. Hopefully, a drug can be found that will help plenty of people, though we are worried about the kind of side effects a drug of this nature will have.

DARPA is likely wanting to see this drug save plenty of lives, and not be used for those who finally want to climb Mount Everest. Still, this drug would be revolutionary.