Friday, April 11, 2008

A shield against radiations

A drug that can protect against the effects of radiation, whether from cancer treatment, a nuclear accident or an atomic bomb, is unveiled today.

The drug is to be developed for the US military to protect troops and is already undergoing tests to help improve cancer treatments.

The new drug protects animals' bone marrow and gut cells from being destroyed by radiation therapy, without reducing radiation's effectiveness against tumour cells, say today's studies.

Although radiation is an important weapon used by doctors to blast cancers, drugs that limit radiation's devastating effects on healthy cells are needed to reduce the potentially severe side effects.

Radiation induces damage in healthy tissues not by directly killing cells but by prompting them to commit "suicide" through a process called apoptosis.

The new drug, called "Protectan CBLB502, tested in mice and monkeys, protects radiation-blasted tissues by shutting down this cell death programme, which the body normally turns on in cells with damaged DNA to keep them from multiplying, says Dr Lyudmila Burdelya, who worked with Drs Vadim Krivokrysenko and Andrei Gudkov at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute and colleagues at the company Cleveland BioLabs, also in Buffalo, New York.

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