New Indian medical countermeasure

Researchers to begin clinical trials on new herbal anti-radiation drug

Indian scientists are preparing to begin clinical trials for a new experimental anti-radiation treatment that could be used following a nuclear attack or accident, the New Indian Express reported on Sunday (see GSN, March 8).

\"We have completed pre-clinical trials on rodents at the Delhi-based Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences,\" Indian Defense Research and Development Organization life sciences head William Selvamurthy told the newspaper. \"The clinical trials will now be done by the Drugs Controller General of India.\"

The anti-radiation pills contain distillations from the central Himalayan plants Podophyllium hexandrum and Hippophae rhamnoides. Assuming development proceeds on course, the drugs should be ready for use in a year.

\"We will make the capsules available for the quick-reaction teams, which will be pressed into service first during nuclear attacks or leaks,\" Selvamurthy said, adding the pills would then be made available to radiotherapy cancer patients and residents living in regions where there are large amounts of radioactive materials.

The anti-radiation medications are being developed in accordance with the Indian military's Nuclear-Biological-Chemical Defense Technology initiative. DRDO researchers have also reportedly created a drug that administers palm chloride and atropine sulphate to individuals who have been exposed to nerve agents (New Indian Express, July 1).

Separately, the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has approved a two-year grant worth close to $600,000 to NeoStem Inc. for work on a potential anti-radiation countermeasure, according to a release issued last week by the New York-based biotechnology firm.

\"This award will fund studies to investigate the potential of very small embryonic-like stem cells as a countermeasure to radiological and nuclear threat. The product candidate, which is an autologous stem cell therapy derived from the patient’s own stem cells, will be developed to rescue patients who have been exposed to radiation due to [a] nuclear accident or terrorist threat,\" the company release states (NeoStem Inc. release, June 25).

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