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Medicine Science

Cure For Radiation Sickness Found? 385

Posted by kdawson
from the since-my-fallout-with-you dept.
Summit writes "A scientist has claimed to have discovered a radioprotectant that all but eliminates acute radiation sickness even in cases of lethal doses of radiation in tests on rats and monkeys, when injected up to 72 hours after exposure. They also claim the drug, a protein, has no observed negative effects in humans. They have not irradiated any people just yet, but if this turns out to be true, it could mean everything from curing cancer to making manned interplanetary space expeditions feasible... not to mention treatment for radiation exposures in nuclear/radiological accidents/attacks. If this drug works, it would mean a true breakthrough as past experiments with radioprotectants were not particularly promising in any respect." The only source for the story at this time is an exclusive in YNet News, a site with the subtitle "Israel At Your Fingertips." Such a radioprotectant would be huge news for Israel. Make of it what you will.
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Cure For Radiation Sickness Found?

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  • I doubt it... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 17, 2009 @08:42AM (#28728913)

    No publication in a real scientific or medical journal.

    Further, radiation sickness is difficult to fix. You've got alpha, beta & gamma particles bombarding cells, causing damage all over the place. Chemical bonds are broken, energy is added, and new chemical bonds form.

    I really doubt a magic bullet can exist for the many types of cellular damage that can occur in different body systems.

  • Oh good, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ChinggisK (1133009) on Friday July 17, 2009 @08:44AM (#28728949)
    Now nuclear war won't be so bad.
  • by Ihlosi (895663) on Friday July 17, 2009 @08:46AM (#28728985)
    Hell, it's early, so I may not be thinking correctly, but it seems to me like a little dose of this would go a long way to curing the horrible side effects of cancer treatment.

    And possibly make the treatment quite ineffective, if it also works on cancer cells.

  • Re:I doubt it... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by v1 (525388) on Friday July 17, 2009 @08:51AM (#28729051) Homepage Journal

    and then there's also the DNA getting chopped up and shuffled around

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 17, 2009 @08:52AM (#28729065)

    Nice to see a second source.

    I was puzzled when I first read, "They also claim the drug, a protein, has no observed negative effects in humans. They have not irradiated any people just yet..." but now, it seems they make the claim of no negative effects without any radiation. While nice, that doesn't precisely predict no negative effects WITH radiation.

    I'm always a little skeptical when a medical announcement is made by a corporation.

  • by Ihlosi (895663) on Friday July 17, 2009 @08:53AM (#28729075)
    Radiation is a good way to cause cancer.

    If you already have cancer, then developing another type of it one or two decades down the road is the least of your worries.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday July 17, 2009 @09:02AM (#28729215) Journal
    Essentially everyone, if they don't get have a heart attack, kiss a bus, or otherwise snuff it early, will eventually succumb to cancer. Assuming this stuff isn't extraordinarily expensive or incredibly nasty in some other way, "survival now, cancer later" would be a good deal for all but the oldest radiation exposure victims.
  • 650 + monkeys ? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PrinceAshitaka (562972) on Friday July 17, 2009 @09:14AM (#28729379) Homepage
    I would doubt it. This would be far beyond what would be nessesary for statistically significant data and monkeys are expensive. If teh report got one detail wrong, what else is wrong with what was reported. I doubt they would even do 600+ mice or rats. That is just too high a number. I have my doubts about this report.
  • by foniksonik (573572) on Friday July 17, 2009 @09:15AM (#28729393) Homepage Journal

    Why post anonymous troll... don't have any confidence in your assertions? Don't want to have your karma blasted?

    North Korea is like an ugly step-child who will take every opportunity to get back at his more attractive more successful siblings. That kid nobody likes because they always lie about everything and don't take care of themselves, don't try to get along and are generally miserable and make everyone around them miserable.

    Israel is like a self-centered only child who gets all the attention deserved or not and always expects that she gets to go first. The kids she cut in front of long ago despise her but everyone else just takes pity on her as an only child and invite her to their parties to be nice. Sometimes she helps out, if it's in her own interest and then everyone gives her a high five to encourage her to do more for others and be less self-centered...

    Two completely different psychologies that can present themselves in similar ways at times... both are isolated in a way and feel threatened by those around them, so they both feel the need to create and put forward a strong defensive front and both over-react when anyone questions them about it. Otherwise, completely different.

    Now let's get back on topic.

  • by GargamelSpaceman (992546) on Friday July 17, 2009 @09:15AM (#28729409) Homepage Journal
    No. According to TFA, your DNA is still ripped to shreds, but the drug supresses your cells' suicide mechanism that having 'corrupted data' in the DNA activated. The suicide mechanism helps keep damaged cells from becoming cancerous cells. Instead they become dead cells. In the case of lethal radiation poisoning, this happens to too many cells. Now, your cells already do have mechanisms to repair DNA damage. If something seems out of place, they can often make the right guess as to how to patch things back together. There are corrupt hard drive repair utilities that do this too. But sometimes they make the wrong guess or can't repair the DNA to original condition. That's why you have the suicide mechanism. A cell that has been so severely damaged that the suicide mechanism is activated has an unacceptably high likelihood of being sufficiently damage that it won't be able to be repaired back to 'manufacturers specifications'.

    Rather than take the chance that the repairs that get done will leave the cell cancerous, the cell is programmed to suicide. Another cell will take it's place. But in the case of fatal radiation poisoning, this happens to too many cells at once.

    'Unacceptable risk' that a cell might turn cancerous might be a very low risk indeed, since cancer is fatal 'in the wild'. Most radiation damaged cells might very well be able to repair themselves perfectly if only they didn't suicide. Deactivating the suicide mechanism temporarily gives them time to repair themselves. Once repaired, they no longer want to suicide. However in the case where many cells were radiation damaged, this likely means some cells were repaired incorrectly and will now cause cancer. Maybe this is not as likely as it may seem at first? How well does radiation cause cancer? How exactly does it happen? I've heard that a speck of plutonium inhaled has a 100% chance of causing lung cancer. But that speck is emmitting radiation 24x7 killing and damaging neighboring cells all the time. Is it the nuclear damage to the cells that causes the cancer, or is it the constant healing? Doesn't the body send stem cells to repair damaged areas? Aren't stem cells more cancer prone?

    Maybe in the case of radiation poisoning, the cells are damaged, and if prevented from suiciding, they will be fine. This isn't chronic radiation damage caused by contamination, but rather acute radiation poisoning caused by having rads of radiation shined through you.

    Maybe not. Excessive X-Ray photographs cause cancer don't they? Maybe the irradiated mice and monkeys will be teeming with tumors in short order. Maybe some of them will touch their keepers and pick up some genetic material. Then they will mutate to be more humanlike, including having intelligence, and natural talent at karate. They will go live in the sewers and protect us from evil ninja gangs with their elite Kung Fu skillz.

  • Re:Oh good, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rogerborg (306625) on Friday July 17, 2009 @09:16AM (#28729419) Homepage
    MAD only applied when the enemy was a State. When it's a bunch of Peace Loving Religious cultists bashing lumps of plutinium together on a boat in New York Harbor, then survivability becomes an issue.
  • by TheLink (130905) on Friday July 17, 2009 @09:16AM (#28729427) Journal
    Probably not.

    More likely it just stops the damaged cells from committing suicide.

    Any increase in cancer rates shouldn't be a big problem for mice, since most mice have a max lifespan of 2-3 years anyway.

    That said, not all damaged cells would end up as cancer, or even nonmalignant tumours. They could just be different from normal in a nonlethal or "big problem" way.
  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Friday July 17, 2009 @09:18AM (#28729447) Homepage
    Depends if kdawson's running another Snake Oil Happy Hour Special. So, likely yes.
  • Jewish-American (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 17, 2009 @09:19AM (#28729461)

    Yes, it's quite weird that they ynet article feels it necessary to cite the scientist's religion. Does it really matter? I hear of news, a discovery, etc, my first thought is "where is this?" not "gee, what book does this person worship?"

  • Fallout (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Friday July 17, 2009 @09:31AM (#28729599)
    Oh, *please* call it RadAway.
  • Re:Oh good, (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Felgerkarb (695336) on Friday July 17, 2009 @09:41AM (#28729755)
    Actually, it is an interesting point.

    One of the arguments against the Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars) was that it actually increased the risk of a nuclear war. I think you can make a similar argument here....if the effects of nuclear weapons are mitigated, doesn't that make people more likely to use them?

  • Re:Oh good, (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 17, 2009 @09:55AM (#28729967)

    You start advertising missiles pointed towards Mecca. There's still MAD.

    Such a move may not result in the behavior you suppose...

  • by MightyYar (622222) on Friday July 17, 2009 @09:57AM (#28729987)

    If you were published in Science, yeah you'd probably get slashdotted.

  • Re:650 + monkeys ? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cnettel (836611) on Friday July 17, 2009 @09:58AM (#28730001)

    600+ mice would not be out of the ordinary at all. Remember that, whatever species they use, there are subgroups. The article states "experiments" on 650+ monkeys. Note the plural. They also note that they obviously tested different times of administration, from -24 to +72 hours. To do that, and to maintain significance within each group, you might end up in a number like this, especially if the Chernobyl-like dose was a maximum rather than the only dose tested. You might even vary the dose of the compound. So, you would test administration time, possibly administration method, radiation dosage. But, yes, it means that they have a quite strong source of funding, but considering the military connection suggested in the article, that doesn't seem impossible.

  • Re:I doubt it... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MightyYar (622222) on Friday July 17, 2009 @10:23AM (#28730369)

    Apoptosis did not evolve to combat massive doses of radiation. It's sort of a "blunt instrument", which takes out a lot of healthy tissue. Controlling apoptosis may very well allow recovery from radiation exposure. Perhaps there will be an increased cancer risk, but this is better than immediate death.

  • by Chris Mattern (191822) on Friday July 17, 2009 @10:38AM (#28730603)

    They mean that the substance itself does not cause any observed harm. In the approval of any medicine, the first step is always to demonstrate that the substance is not itself poisonous. Only then do trials progress to determine if it is in fact effective.

  • American? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Roger W Moore (538166) on Friday July 17, 2009 @10:45AM (#28730679) Journal
    No they should have just said American. That's what it presumably says on their passport unless they have dual nationality.... and regardless of this it is utterly irrelevant for the story. Can you imagine the uproar had they said "white, male scientists"?

    Not only that but I would imagine that it is somewhat insulting to Americans - are they really that ashamed of being a US citizen that they have to somehow dilute it by mentioning where their family emmigrated from?
  • by bstender (1279452) <(moc.temruogmaps ... 2.todhsals.liam)> on Friday July 17, 2009 @11:15AM (#28731139)
    scams work exceedingly well if they propose solutions to deeply seated fears. everyone wants to believe it is true, even the harshest skeptics.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 17, 2009 @11:22AM (#28731237)

    Given the forum, Mentats are curiously absent from your list.

  • by blhack (921171) on Friday July 17, 2009 @11:31AM (#28731329)

    If your blog happens to be a well respected, hugely successful news organization in a well respected, modern country, then yes, you will probably get slashdotted.

  • by JM78 (1042206) on Friday July 17, 2009 @11:38AM (#28731419) Journal
    I can vouch for the site and newspaper's credibility

    LOL. Well that's fantastic! So tell us oh creditable AC? Who shall now vouch for you?
  • by PitaBred (632671) <slashdot@pitabre ... org minus distro> on Friday July 17, 2009 @12:22PM (#28732059) Homepage
    Or maybe, as you wean off the drug, the cells will just die and be replaced at a manageable rate, instead of all at once. Which would mean that you as a whole would survive acute radiation poisoning, and the damaged cells still wouldn't. It's not all gloom and doom.
  • by aldousd666 (640240) on Friday July 17, 2009 @12:30PM (#28732169) Journal
    I'm a little skeptical how a protein, made of molecules that are subject to the same destructive radiation particles as any other molecules are can protect someone from something smaller than a molecule, and somehow render random molecular damage 'benign.' It's like saying they can make a pill that will prevent knife damage. Seriously, radiation damage is PHYSICAL DAMAGE, not some chemical signal to block the receptors of. I call immediate bullshit.
  • by wealthychef (584778) on Friday July 17, 2009 @01:28PM (#28732989)
    It will make governments less averse to using nuclear weapons.
  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Friday July 17, 2009 @03:55PM (#28734923)

    Consider this - with an effective "cure" for radiation, it ceases to become a bogeyman and people will be a LOT more comfortable with clean, efficient nuclear power stations nearby. It takes out a large leg from the alarmists that try to stop them from being built.

  • Re:Jewish-American (Score:2, Insightful)

    by asaz989 (901134) on Friday July 17, 2009 @10:35PM (#28738027)
    The only reason YNetNews decided to report on it at all was that the researchers were Jewish. If it were a Jewish American paper like, say, the Jewish Journal writing this report (and they do occasionally report on things like this), then it would be very clear why they specify "Jewish-American" - otherwise there's little reason for the paper to report on it. Similarly, Yediot Aharonot is an Israeli paper catering either to an Israeli audience (in its Hebrew edition) or a foreign Jewish audience (in its English edition). Given that I can't even *find* this story in the Hebrew edition, I assume the story is exclusively aimed at a foreign Jewish audience (of whom probably 80-90% are American), and they're going to YNetNews to hear (a) news from Israel, and (b) news about Jews. Hence also the emphasis on the impact on Israel, when the researchers are many thousands of miles away and are probably not thinking of Israel's defense as the first application for this drug. You have a problem with news written from an ethnic/national perspective, go read the New York Times.

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