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Caffeine pill to keep soldiers alert in the field

A defense pill to keep soldiers alert in the field by producing the stimulation enjoyed by regular coffee drinkers is being developed by defense scientists in Singapore.//

In what is believed to be the first extensive study of the effects of caffeine on Asians, DSO National Laboratories, Singapore's leading defence research organization, said it will spend three years analyzing the natural stimulant.

"Several experiments will be conducted to understand the metabolism of caffeine in the local population...and if these effects translate into enhanced vigilance in the military context," The Straits Times quoted Fabian Lim, head of the Military Physiology Lab, as saying.

"DSO is also working on a pill that will maintain a sustained release of caffeine, so that caffeine is made available in the body over several hours," Lim said.

The scientists will be using "regular caffeine drinkers" in a study they hope will result in a pill to keep soldiers alert even if sleep deprived.

Participants are confined to people aged 18 to 35 who drink more than three caffeine-based beverages a day.

While caffeine in chewing gum is already consumed by soldiers in the US Army, Lim said the DSO scientists are attempting to break new ground by experimenting with caffeine pills of different potency, with some containing the equivalent of half a cup of coffee and others that of two cups.

The differing doses will be tried on people with varying weights, physical conditions and ages to find the best match for different Asian body types.

Edited DPA

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