Drugs for the protection of populations exposed to a nuclear accident

7 Jun 2017

Medical countermeasures for the protection of populations exposed to a nuclear accident

After a civil or military accident, involving nuclear material, dispersed radioactive metals contaminate both the environment and exposed populations within a perimeter which varies depending on the type of accident, wind strengths and other factors.
Today, there are no suitable decorporation treatments for large contaminated populations and no approved drug to be used after irradiation and free of serious side effects.

We are developing 2 drugs for the protection of populations, with special emphasis on children and pregnant women:

  • decorporation of plutonium
  • decorporation of cesium
  • radioprotection / radiomitigation

The increasing threat of nuclear terrorism as well as accidents that involved the release of radioactive materials into the environment, such as the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in March 2011, has heightened awareness for many nations for the need to be prepared for such cataclysmic events. Detonation of a nuclear weapon or a radiological dispersion device (“dirty bomb”) near densely populated areas could also result in a large number of individuals being contaminated b y radionuclides via inhalation, ingestion, or through wounds. Internalization of radioactive materials may result in acute radiation sickness or chronic injuries including an increased risk of developing cancers. In such cases, decorporation therapy is used to reduce the health risks due to their intake.

The aim of decorporation treatments is to help the body eliminate radioactive or other toxic metals which have been accumulated in tissues. Most decorporating agents are based upon metal chelating molecules or crystalline complexes which have a very high affinity to the toxic metal or radionuclide concerned. After the toxic metal or radionuclide has been “fixed” by the chelate, the complex is eliminated by the body more efficiency.

The aim of radiomitigation treatment is, for its part, to protect cells after exposure to ionizing radiation at toxic dose in order to significantly decrease the late appearance of cancers.