Pentagon counters lethal radiation exposure

Posted by Trent Nouveau

DARPA scientists at the US Department of Defense (DoD) have determined that an antibiotic and a protein are capable of fighting radiation sickness more effectively when combined.

While doctors already use antibiotics to treat radiation sickness, researchers recently discovered that adding bactericidal/permeability-increasing protein (BPI), a protein found in immune systems, facilitated higher survival rates (nearly 80%) in mice exposed to toxic levels of radiation.

Pentagon counters lethal radiation exposure

"The fact that this treatment can be administered up to a day after radiation exposure is so important," explained DARPA exec Millie Donlon.

"This is because most of the existing treatments we have require they be administered within hours of exposure to potentially lethal radiation - something that might not always be possible in the confusion that would likely follow such an exposure event."

According to Donlon, humans are known to be more sensitive than mice to the endotoxins treated by BPI, making the above-mentioned treatment regimen potentially more effective in humans.

To be sure, these are commonly used drugs that have already been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in other scenarios such as bone marrow transplants and radiation treatment. They also have a long shelf life, making them easy to stockpile for future use.

Interestingly enough, Donlon acknowledged that researchers have yet to determine why the combination of BPI and antibiotics work so well together. 

Nevertheless, scientists definitively confirmed that mice that receiving both of these drugs not only had higher survival rates - but also began to generate new bloods cells more quickly.