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Dana-Farber/Children's Hospital Boston study identifies possible therapy for radiation sickness
Date:11/23/2011

ntibiotics and rBPI21 have been shown to be quite safe in humans," says Levy. "Their combined effectiveness in our study involving mice is an indication that they may be equally beneficial in people."

The research potentially represents a major step in the United States government's efforts to build a stockpile of therapies to counter radiological dangers.

"There is great interest in creating systems for dealing with the short- and long-term health risks of a significant release of radiation, whether from an accident at a nuclear power plant, an act of terrorism, or even a small-scale incident in which a CT machine malfunctions," says Guinan. "Developing useful agents has proven difficult. Most existing drugs aren't effective enough and must be given within a very short time frame to provide any benefit. The recent disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan illustrates the need for agents that can be deployed rapidly to treat large populations."

Radiation sickness, also known as acute radiation syndrome, varies with the amount of radiation an individual receives. The first signs of the disease usually are nausea and vomiting, which can be followed by fever, dizziness, weakness, bloody vomit and stools, difficulty breathing, and infection. The body's blood-making tissue, nervous system, digestive tract, lungs, and cardiovascular system all can be affected. At very high doses, radiation is usually fatal.

Within the body, the effects of heavy radiation may include leakage of bacteria and the toxins they produce into the bloodstream from the digestive tract or through broken skin. Radiation effects play havoc with the function of the heart and lungs, disrupt the process of blood coagulation, and inflame tissue throughout the body.

When bacteria or certain toxins enter the blood under normal conditions, the body's immune system responds by dispatching neutrophils white blood cells to destroy the intruders.
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Contact: Teresa Herbert
teresa_herbert@dfci.harvard.edu
617-632-4090
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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