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Duke awarded up to $43 million to develop test for dirty bomb/radiation exposure
Date:1/20/2010

DURHAM, N.C. Duke University has received a $3.7 million contract from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to develop a rapid and accurate genomic-based diagnostic test that can determine if a person has been exposed to radiation from a dirty bomb or nuclear attack. In the event that all option years are exercised by the government, Duke University could receive up to $43.6 million from the contract.

"Since 9/11, there has been national concern about the possibility of a terrorist attack in the U.S. involving radiological or nuclear materials. Such an attack could kill or injure hundreds of thousands of people," says John Chute, M.D., associate professor of medicine at Duke and principal investigator of the project. "The problem is that right now, we don't have any way to rapidly screen thousands of people to determine their level of radiation exposure. Many people who suffer radiation injury can recover and survive if they are promptly and properly treated."

BARDA is part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It manages Project BioShield and the Public Health Emergency Medical Countermeasures Enterprise, two organizations charged with the development of medical response to pandemic disease and countermeasures for chemical, biological and nuclear attacks.

The award builds upon Chute's previous collaborations at Duke with Joseph Nevins, Ph.D. and Nelson Chao, M.D. that identified a set of 25 genes in human peripheral blood that are activated in response to radiation. Chute says that radiation exposure causes a characteristic pattern of expression in those 25 genes and this "signature" can diagnose radiation status with over 90 percent accuracy. Chute's earlier work was supported by a $25 million grant from the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases that established the Duke Center for Medical Counter
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Contact: Michelle Gailiun
michelle.gailiun@duke.edu
919-660-1306
Duke University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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