FDA ticks off first drug to treat radiation sickness after nuclear disasters

FDA ticks off first drug to tr...
The FDA has approved a drug said to help those exposed to radiation overcome its nasty and enduring effects
The FDA has approved a drug said to help those exposed to radiation overcome its nasty and enduring effects
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The FDA has approved a drug said to help those exposed to radiation overcome its nasty and enduring effects
The FDA has approved a drug said to help those exposed to radiation overcome its nasty and enduring effects

A drug long-used to counter the negative effects of chemotherapy has won US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for use in treating the nasty effects of exposure to radiation following a nuclear disaster. Known commercially as Neupogen, the drug has been shown to work by shielding the body's white blood cells to heighten a patient's chances of survival.

Neupogen, or filgrastim as it is otherwise known, is a synthetic protein that boosts the growth of infection-fighting white blood cells. Where the production of these cells is hampered in cancer patients by chemotherapy and radiation therapy, Neupogen can be used to stimulate the growth, maturation and release of white cells from the bone marrow. This better equips the sufferer to ward off infections and bleeding problems that can result from the therapy.

Neupogen was first approved for helping to treat those undergoing chemotherapy in 1991, and has since been one of a number of multi-purpose drugs investigated for potential use in the aftermath of nuclear disasters. But research conducted at the University of Maryland has now uncovered evidence worthy of the FDA's nod, making Neupogen the first drug to be approved as a countermeasure for Hematopoietic Acute Radiation Syndrome (H-ARS).

The scientists carried out their study in a non-human clinical model of high-dose radiation, with the FDA saying that, in the absence of ethical human studies, these animal studies were adequate and well enough controlled to suggest Neupogen is reasonably likely to be of benefit to humans suffering from H-ARS. This condition pertains to injuries to the bone marrow that slow the production of blood cells as a result of radiation exposure, and carries the risk of death from infection and haemorrhaging. But the FDA says that Neupogen can effectively minimize the severity and recovery time of such conditions.

"Our research shows that this drug works to increase survival by protecting blood cells," says Dr Thomas MacVittie, professor at the University of Maryland's School of Medicine. "That is a significant advancement, because the drug can now be used as a safe and effective treatment for the blood cell effects of severe radiation poisoning."

Sources: University of Maryland, FDA

Stephen N Russell
Could have used in 50s atomic tests in NV alone.
Unless the FDA can put this to better use, like cancer radiation treatments, it should not be enabling nuclear war.
Cool, so after the next nuclear attack I can get an appointment from my doctor to get a prescription and after that appointment go to the pharmacy to fill it.
Stephen: Neupogen did not exist in the 1950s, so could NOT have helped then. Your comment is like saying that rocket-borne atomic warheads could have prevented the asteroid from wiping out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Art: the existence of a treatment does not "enable" whatever causes the condition a treatment is used to correct. GIZMAG: "approval" and "ticked off" are hard to imagine as synonyms. Don't be so colloquial in your headlines.
Doc Blake
Hmmm, things would have to be horrendous before I would drop that pill, the side effects have to be neck and neck with radiation exposure, go figure? Doc Blake
On a positive note - perhaps it could be used to protect astronauts against radiation. Or at least help develop something for radiation they would encounter on long journeys e.g. Mars!
Aeolus Pharmaceuticals is developing its lead compound as a treatment for the pulmonary and delayed effects of acute radiation exposure. Development work is funded under a five year, $118 million, cost-plus contract with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
There lead compound has performed well in animal safety studies, been well-tolerated in two human clinical trials, demonstrated efficacy in two species in acute radiation syndrome (ARS) studies and demonstrated statistically significant survival efficacy in an acute radiation-induced lung injury model.