News / USA

US Developing Radiation Sickness Drug

Ex-Rad could be used before or after exposure

Evacuees are screened for radiation contamination at a testing center Tuesday, March 15, 2011, in Koriyama city, Fukushima Prefecture, northern Japan, four days after a massive earthquake and tsunami struck the country's north east coast.
Evacuees are screened for radiation contamination at a testing center Tuesday, March 15, 2011, in Koriyama city, Fukushima Prefecture, northern Japan, four days after a massive earthquake and tsunami struck the country's north east coast.

Multimedia

Vidushi Sinha

The serious radiation leaks at Japan's damaged Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant have reawakened public fears about radiation sickness. But what if there were a drug that could not only protect people from dangerous levels of radiation exposure but also heal those actually exposed to damaging nuclear radiation?

Researchers say they are developing such a drug - one that can both prevent and repair human cell damage from all types of radiation exposure.

Such a healing medication has the potential to lessen panic and fear generated by catastrophic reactor accidents. Plant workers trying to make repairs near a crippled reactor's radioactive core might be less fearful if they could take a pill to repair their own radiation-damaged cells.

Ramesh Kumar, the CEO of a U.S. drug research firm called Onconova, says his company has just such a wonder drug in the works.

The company has been collaborating on the drug, called Ex-Rad, with scientists at a U.S. Defense Department research laboratory. Kumar says early animal trials have been promising.

“Ex-Rad is a drug which is effective in saving a cell damaged by radiation," he says, "and we have found that it can be given in advance of exposure to radiation up to a day ahead or it can be given up to a day after the exposure to radiation.”

There are existing antidotes for radiation exposure which have been approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Potassium iodide, also known as the radiation pill, prevents the body's absorption of the radioactive iodine present in reactor emissions. For a person poisoned by radioactive isotopes such as plutonium and cesium - types of radiation being released from the Fukushima reactors - FDA-approved drugs such as Prussian Blue capsules can quickly flush radioactive elements from the body. However, right now there are no drugs specifically for treating radiation sickness itself.

The Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute has been leading the Pentagon's quest for a more effective antidote to radiation sickness, which has a wide range of symptoms.

“The symptoms of acute radiation sickness will be just exactly like a terrible flu," says Col. Andrew Huff, a spokesman for the research institute. "The person would have headache. They would feel very tired. They would have little bit of fever. They might have some vomiting at higher doses all of this and more but at survivable doses it would come on within 24 to 36 hours."

According to Huff, the body loses its platelet and neutrophil supply and people can eventually die of bleeding. He says the Pentagon's search for radiation sickness treatments is intensifying.

“The other more vexing problem, the one that we really have to worry about for larger numbers of people - if there were nuclear terrorism - is how much external ionizing penetrating radiation a person would get after a nuclear detonation."

To combat such a crisis - or to treat people exposed to radiation from a damaged nuclear reactor - the Department of Defense and Onconova have collaborated on the development of Ex-Rad.

“FDA has devised a development path for drugs like Ex-Rad which involves clinical trials, animal studies, and additional controls for manufacturing and we are in the process of completing these studies," says Kumar, whose company is developing Ex-Rad. "We started this process in 2008 under and FDA's Investigational New Drug Exemption. We have carried out clinical studies in human subjects for safety and we are in the process of continuing to do animal efficacy studies so once all of these studies are completed we can get an approval for specific indication. It could be prophylactic use before - or after - exposure.  It could be injectable or oral.”

Kumar says Ex-Rad won't be available for at least another two or three years. In the meantime, government officials warn the public to be cautious about the growing number of claims being made on the Internet for anti-radiation drugs that purport to be miracle cures.

You May Like

As US Strikes Syria, China Sees Parallels at Home

Beijing is debating how much support to give international coalition against IS militants and trying to figure out how many Chinese nationals may have joined group overseas More

CDC: Ebola Could Infect 1.4 Million by January

update US health officials say if efforts to curb the outbreak are not increased, cases will soar dramatically by early next year More

Video USAID Provides $231 Million for Girls Education in 5 Countries

US Agency for International Development partners with celebrities to call attention to importance of education for girls worldwide More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid