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Feds fund study of drug that may prevent radiation injury
Date:1/27/2008

The Department of Defense has commissioned a nine-month study from Rice University chemists and scientists in the Texas Medical Center to determine whether a new drug based on carbon nanotubes can help prevent people from dying of acute radiation injury following radiation exposure. The new study was commissioned after preliminary tests found the drug was greater than 5,000 times more effective at reducing the effects of acute radiation injury than the most effective drugs currently available.

"More than half of those who suffer acute radiation injury die within 30 days, not from the initial radioactive particles themselves but from the devastation they cause in the immune system, the gastrointestinal tract and other parts of the body," said James Tour, Rice's Chao Professor of Chemistry, director of Rice's Carbon Nanotechnology Laboratory (CNL) and principal investigator on the grant. "Ideally, we'd like to develop a drug that can be administered within 12 hours of exposure and prevent deaths from what are currently fatal exposure doses of ionizing radiation."

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded Tour and co-principal investigators J. Conyers and Valerie Moore at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UT-Houston) and Luka Milas, Kathy Mason and Jeffrey Myers at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center a $540,000 grant for a nine-month study of an experimental drug that the investigators have named Nanovector Trojan Horses (NTH).

NTH is made at Rice's Chemistry Department and Carbon Nanotechnology Laboratory in the Richard E. Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology. The drug is based on single-walled carbon nanotubes, hollow cylinders of pure carbon that are about as wide as a strand of DNA. To form NTH, Rice scientists coat nanotubes with two common food preservatives -- the antioxidant compounds butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)
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Contact: David Ruth
druth@rice.edu
713-348-6327
Rice University
Source:Eurekalert

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