Radiation-Fighting Drug

A hydroxylase inhibitor that prolongs the action of a gut-protective protein shows promise in mice as a treatment for radiation poisoning.

Rina Shaikh-Lesko
May 16, 2014

WIKIMEDIA, NEPHRONA protein that protects the cells that line the gut may be able to prevent gastrointestinal damage following radiation, which can often be fatal, according to a study published this week (May 14) in Science Translational Medicine.  A team led by Amato Giaccia of the Stanford University School of Medicine found that in mice a drug called dimethyloxallyl glycine (DMOG), which neutralizes enzymes that reduce levels of this protein, called hypoxia-inducible factor 2 (HIF2), protected against radiation-induced gut damage.

The work was funded by the National Institutes of Health as part of a plan to develop medical interventions for use after a “dirty bomb” is detonated. But Giaccia’s team next plans to develop a version of the drug that can be used to protect healthy cells in people undergoing radiation therapy. Current therapies concentrate radiation narrowly around the target, such as a tumor, but metastasized cancer cells can...

“We’re thinking about using this to transform radiotherapy from a localized type of therapy to a systemic therapy,” Giaccia told Nature News. “The potential to be able to use these drugs as clinical radioprotectors is not unreasonable.”