A major research effort to develop medical products to diagnose, prevent and treat the short- and long-term consequences of radiation exposure after a radiological or nuclear terrorist attack has been renewed by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.
NIAID's Centers for Countermeasures Against Radiation (CMCR) program, first established in 2005, will support research at seven institutions nationwide. NIAID will provide five years of additional funding to the program beginning in fiscal year 2010, for an estimated total of $105 million.
"Medical countermeasures are vital to protecting the public and caring for patients in the event of a deliberate or accidental exposure to radiation," says NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. "Such treatments also might help diminish the organ and tissue damage that occurs after radiation exposure in other settings, such as in cancer therapy."
The CMCR program, part of NIAID's larger medical countermeasures program, supports research in radiation biology as well as projects to develop diagnostic tools to measure radiation exposure and therapeutics to treat the resultant tissue injury. Each center conducts its own research projects and also supports pilot projects proposed by investigators outside the CMCR core program.
In the initial CMCR program, NIAID supported eight centers. Participating investigators developed methods and tools to measure radiation exposure. They also conducted animal model studies to evaluate potential drugs to treat radiation injury to the blood, gastrointestinal tract, lungs, kidneys, skin, and the cardiovascular and central nervous systems.
"The initial program funded 130 pilot studies and attracted a number of new investigators from fields outside radiobiology research," says Narayani Ramakrishnan, Ph.D., who oversees the CMCRs at NIAID. "The CMCRs also developed educational material
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NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases