If there is another war in the tropics, U.S. troops will be fighting in unfamiliar conditions and will be exposed to unfamiliar diseases, a Utah researcher says.

Roger Coulombe, a researcher in the Utah State University toxicology program, recently was awarded a three-year, $548,000 grant from the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases to study new drugs to combat these exotic diseases.He says the exact title of the study is "Preclinical Pharmacology of Antiviral Agents."

"These drugs have already been studied for effectiveness; what we will be doing is research on their therapeutic effects. That is, we will use mice to determine the dosage levels and the frequency of application.

"In the process we will also be looking for any possible metabolites of the drugs that may be carcinogenic," he says.

Coulombe explains that while a drug itself may not be carcinogenic, as it is processed by the body it may break down into substances that are carcinogenic. This is one of the reasons it takes such a long time to approve drugs for human use, he says.

Coulombe says one of the offshoots of this research may be finding new drugs to combat the AIDS virus.