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Preliminary research in Toronto indicates that a special formulation of antioxidants taken orally before imaging can reduce cell damage from ionizing radiation by as much as 50 percent.

“In our initial small study, we found that preadministering to patients a proprietary antioxidant formulation resulted in a notable dose-dependent reduction in DNA injury,” said Kieran J. Murphy, MD. He added:

This could play an important role in protecting adults and children who require imaging or a screening study.

Dr. Murphy is a professor at the University of Toronto as well as vice chair and deputy chief of medical imaging and director of medical imaging research at the university. He presented his findings at the 36th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Society of Interventional Radiology, which began Saturday and concludes Thursday in Chicago.

He wasn’t kidding about it being a small study. According to Time magazine, it involved blood samples from two of Dr. Murphy’s colleagues, drawn both before and after they had taken the antioxidants. The blood samples were irradiated. The post–antioxidant treatment samples showed 30 percent to 50 percent less DNA damage, as measured by the presence of a protein that repairs DNA damage.

When ionizing radiation strikes water molecules in the body, it creates free radicals, which can cause cell damage. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals. Dr. Murphy said he got the idea to try antioxidants from the list of antioxidant vitamins that his mother-in-law was not allowed to take when she was undergoing radiation treatment for breast cancer. She was told that the antioxidants would interfere with the radiation’s ability to damage cancer cells.

Many antioxidants are not absorbed well by the body. So Dr. Murphy and his colleagues had to create just the right mixture.

“Our intent was to develop an effective proprietary formula of antioxidants to be taken orally prior to exposure that can protect a patient’s DNA against a free radical–mediated radiation injury,” said Dr. Murphy, “and we have applied to patent this formulation and a specific dose strategy.” He was quoted in a Society of Interventional Radiology news release through EurekAlert.

Next, say the researchers, will be a full clinical trial in Toronto.

Related seminar: Interventional Radiology Review

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