A drug developed from flagella of a benign strain of Salmonella bacteria has been found inhibit the devastating effects of radiation on mice and monkeys. This implication means it may be possible to develop less toxic treatments of cancer and also help shield against the radiation exposure of rescuers entering a radioactive area.
Radiation initiates a programmed cell death known as apoptosis when they are exposed to its waves. This causes death when radiation destroys the cells lining the gut and also those within the bone marrow that create blood cells, vital to our body.
In order to prevent this cell death, Andrei Gudkov and his colleagues at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute ideated that turning off apoptosis for short periods of time would effectively protect cells from the harmful effects of radiation. It was then found that the flagella of benign Salmonella living within the intestine were capable of doing so, a defence which protected the gut cells they huddled against.
The active parts of the Salmonella flagellum protein were put together in a carrier molecule in order to be applied as a radiation resistant medication. This molecule, codenamed CBLB502, was then injected into mice approximately an hour before receiving an immense 13 Grays of radiation. This amount of radiation has the capacity to be fatal in humans. The result showed that 90% of the mice survived the radiation.
One setback of the Salmonella drug however, is that the application of this drug is not very effective once radiation poisoning has already occurred. In tests, the drug could only save mice when injected within an hour of receiving 9 Grays of radiation. The innovation of this drug although still has the capacity to save many lives.
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