New Drug Protects Body From Radiation

Promising treatment has potential medical, military applications
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 11, 2008 2:15 PM CDT
Charts show cancer treatment spending, average Medicare payments for common cancers and percentage breakdown of most common cancers. A new drug could make radiation a much safer treatment.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – A promising new drug that protects animals from damaging radiation is ready for clinical trials in humans, the BBC reports. The drug interferes with the protein that ordinarily causes cell suicide in the presence of radiation, meaning it could be useful in treating cancer patients undergoing radiation as well as victims of a dirty bomb or nuclear attack.

The report is a "breakthrough," one of the scientists tells the Telegraph, because it "provides a long-awaited example of single-agent anti-radiation therapy with significant survival benefits at a single dose." In one experiment, mice that received one injection of the drug before exposure to radiation were still alive 6 months later, compared to the control group, which died within 10 days.