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New Drug Fights High-Dose Radiation Damage

October 16, 2012
Written by: , Filed in: Emergency Radiology
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If a radiation attack occurs, you might want to drink coffee and eat blueberries. Or you could try a new drug that, when administered starting 24 hours after radiation exposure, provides three times the survival rate of a placebo in animal models.

The drug supplies an artificial version of a molecule that occurs naturally in coffee and blueberries. Its developers presented their findings this morning at the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) Annual Meeting and Exposition in Chicago.

Charles R. Yates, PharmD, PhD, one of the researchers, explained why the National Institutes of Health funded the research:

Development of drugs for individuals who are exposed to high-dose radiation in a public health emergency has been a priority since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Dr. Yates is an associate professor in The University of Tennessee College of Pharmacy. He was quoted in an AAPS news release disseminated via EurekAlert! “The ultimate goal,” he continued, “is wide dissemination of noninvasive treatments after 24 hours of a mass casualty.”

The researchers also developed a new delivery system that’s applied directly to the skin like an adhesive bandage. Vomiting, a common effect of radiation exposure, makes oral delivery impractical, and injection is more complicated and riskier, especially if no trained professionals are available to administer the shots.

The drug has proven highly effective when radiation exposure occurs along with skin wounds, which would be common after the sort of explosion that would deliver a high dose of radiation.

Dr. Yates developed the drug along with Duane Miller, PhD, chair of the Tennessee College of Pharmacy, and M. Waleed Gaber, PhD, an associate professor in the pediatrics department at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

RxBio of Johnson City, Tennessee, has licensed the technology from the University of Tennessee Research Foundation for commercialization. RxBio, according to its Web site, specializes in “small-molecule platform technology.”

Related seminar: ALARA-CT (As Low As Reasonably Achievable)

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