Light-activated drugs could keep sleep-deprived military pilots alert

Light-activated drugs could keep sleep-deprived military pilots alert

Military pilots must stay alert while controlling fighter aircraft, such as this F-15E Strike Eagle

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Hiram Martinez

The US military wants to create a stimulant drug that can be switched on or off in the brain using near-infrared light. Such technology could help Air Force pilots stay alert during long combat missions while avoiding negative side effects or addiction.

The AWARE program, a project of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), aims to develop a new version of dextroamphetamine that can be activated or deactivated through exposure to near-infrared light.…

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